Victoria University student, Nicola Stevens, was Collingwood’s first choice for its 2017 women’s team and sixth draft pick overall.
The third-year osteopathy student has been playing football since starting Auskick with her brother at the age of eight. She played at Pascoe Vale for many years before moving on to the Melbourne University Women’s Football Club where she was spotted by AFL selectors.
Nicola has a reputation as a fearless opponent with an uncanny ability to read the play and intercept marks. Describing herself as “a defender at heart” the 23-year-old half-back flank says that being selected was “really overwhelming. I was so relieved to hear my name called”.
"After all the years of playing for fun and for the love of the game, and not imagining that AFL was a possibility, I think we’ll be role models for girls coming up who now have that pathway from the age of five all the way through. It’s nice to be that kind of role model."
For Nicola and the other players in the eight teams, 2017 is packed tight with games. The women’s AFL season starts in February and runs for eight weeks. Following a six-week break, they go into the 14-round VFL season.
Collingwood Football Club Women’s Team starts pre-season on November 22, training three nights a week. In the meantime, they have access to all the club’s facilities and support staff as well as their own coaches and support people.
Nicola’s family is steeped in football and behind her all the way. Her father has a voluntary role with Essendon on match days and her grandfather was an Essendon timekeeper for 52 years.
Nicola lives in Pascoe Vale and works part-time at a clinic in Clifton Hill. Next year, she starts a Master of Health Science (Osteopathy) with the intention of a career working with elite athletes.