You may have read Shae-Lee’s inspirational story back in May (if you haven’t keep reading!), we now have an update and Shae-Lee needs your help. Shae-Lee has been selected in a squad of 30 female AFL players from around Australia for the inaugural women’s Australian Rules Football tour heading to the USA in October. This means Shae-Lee also has the opportunity to be coached by AFLW coaches from Greater Western Sydney and Fremantle.
The only thing standing in the way is to raise $6,000 by October, Shae-Lee is well and truly onto it and almost a 1/3rd of the way there and is running raffles as well as a Go-Fund Me page, you can donate here every little bit counts, no matter how small!
You can get raffle tickets by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
1 for $5 – 3 for $10 – 7 for $20
Shae-Lee grew up with her brother Ryan and her beautiful Mum, Kerri. Starting life in Melton, in a single parent home, made her relationship with her Mum even more important. Shae-Lee moved to Altona North when she was 8, and by this age she already had a love of football, she recalls being ‘allowed’ to play in the interschool football games in grades 5 and 6. While she was playing with boys in these games, she absolutely killed it!
From that time on Shae-Lee could be seen at the front of their house, kicking the footy with her brother Ryan. Joining the girls footy team in High School, by the age of 14 she was already playing in the Year 12 team. Footy was not her only sport, she was also a keen (and very good) skate boarder and drag bike racer, and was competing at the highest level. Unfortunately a choice had to be made as they were both consuming her weekends and Shae-Lee left behind skate boarding and drag bike racing to focus on AFL.
Shae-Lee was the best & fairest winner in U14s and was very involved in the club, taking a lead role in starting a girl’s team in Altona. At the time there were just 10 to 12 girls, so were only able to play scratch matches, but it was a start.
Shae-Lee went on to play Interleague and also played in the Victorian Youth Academy, where 50 girls trained at Windy Hill each week, and later at Cragieburn. This was where the TAC Cup girls program was in its infancy.
In 2009 Chyloe Kurdas presented the 2020 vision for the AFL Women’s competition and inspired by Chyloe’s vision, Shae-Lee knew that was what she wanted to do.
Shae-Lee also represented Victoria for a number of years. one of her fondest memories was being selected for Victoria in her last year of Youth Girls and having the opportunity to go to Adelaide with her team mates and coaches Andrew Jago & Paul Groves. Shae-Lee was grateful that her Mum was able to fly over to watch them win a national championship at AAMI Stadium. She represented Victoria for a number of years prior.
Having continued to play at Altona in seniors, her last game there was her 100th game. A fitting milestone where her Mum surprised her with a banner, as always, supporting her and beaming with pride. After Altona, Shae-Lee moved to the St Kilda Sharks, until in 2014 an MRI revealed a stress fracture, taking her out of footy for the rest of the season. Having worked so hard and played only two games with The Sharks, as well as being a part of the Victoria Women’s Academy, Shae-Lee was well positioned for the draft to the AFLW when the time came. Shae-Lee was shattered! It was a bad beginning to the worst possible year.
At the age of 20, Shae-Lee went through the devastating and sudden loss of her Mum passing away. Her entire world fell apart, her Mum was gone, football was on hold, and she now had only a casual job at The Western Bulldogs as a Community Coach, with no home to live in. Too much for anyone to bear.
In 2015 Shae-Lee got back to football and while it was far from her best year and her fitness wasn’t there, she was at the Port Colt’s and back in a fantastic football community, that become her extended family – They won the premiership. The second year back was better, with her fitness level back to where it should be and with the announcement of the AFLW, footy was definitely looking up.
Unfortunately Shae-Lee missed out on making the draft in 2016, but not one to let set-backs define her, Shae-Lee decided to try out for the Geelong VFL side. Finally after years of hard work, dedication and persistence Shae-Lee is one step closer to her AFLW dream and with Geelong applying for a licence for 2019 who knows what 2018 & 2019 will bring!
You have certainly have been through a lot and it seems like it was all in a very short space of time, how do you keep going?
I have always had a drive, ambition and a desire for better opportunities and striving to be the best ‘me’ I can be. I’ve always said you can’t choose where you come from, you can only accept the past, learn from it – take something from a negative and make it have value in a positive light, let it be your motivation. Similarly you can’t choose the cards you are dealt but you can make the best of what you have and build on it. I believe everything happens for a reason, or how it’s meant to, and you need to take every opportunity to grow from all moments in your life.
The decisions we make, the actions and risks we take, the influences we surround ourselves with, and the mindset we have – ultimately affect the outcome of our goals.
You must work relentlessly! I hope others don’t deny themselves the opportunity to get what they want out of life.
Who was your biggest support?
My Mum especially was my biggest support, she was always right beside me in everything I did. Mum gave me so much and without her I wouldn’t be where I am today. Apart from Mum, it’s always been football. With football, I found a place where I belonged and I found what I wanted to do with my life – I found a purpose. I also had a fantastic teacher Mr Bond, when I made the U16 Victorian Team, he helped with fund-raising so I could go to Queensland to play, he has continued to believe in me and support me, being my player sponsor at Port Colts and continuing to support me at Geelong FC. My two best mates Kacie Cook and Steph Webb, who I’ve played footy with for most of my career, have been an ongoing support for me for over 8-9 years now. They believe in me and I believe in them, we laugh together in the good times, celebrate our achievements and learn from our mistakes together on and off the field and I think that’s so important in a friendship. To inspire each other to grow and be better people, and to never give up when the going gets tough – get tougher. We feed off each others energy. They’ve especially been there for me these past few years and I know that they’re not only my best mates, but my sisters.
What’s been your biggest achievement so far?
Seeing my name on the list for the Geelong Cats is so exciting. From having a year off when I was at my then peak, due to injury and having a very poor year mentally where I was at my lowest, to coming back to play footy with my mates at The Colts, regaining my drive and working hard to get back to where I was. Then trying out for The Cats and enduring pre-season with some ups and downs with my body, but having my team mates by my side – I am so looking forward to everything that is to come playing for this amazing club. I’m beyond grateful for everything Geelong has done for us girls. We feel a sense of belonging at The Club, we have amazing facilities that I would never have dreamed of and the coaches/support staff are incredible at what they do and are great people.
Opportunity is Limitless!
After all you have been through how do you manage to stay so positive?
I stay positive because I know that it could be worse, and I’ve gotten through hard times and come out more resilient for it. Dragging your feet won’t get you anywhere. Simple things like listening to my favourite bands Amity Affliction and All Time Low or having a laugh with my mates keeps me positive too.
I know how lucky I am to have had such a supportive, ambitious, hard-working and positive role model in my life for 20 years – My Mum, and that motivates me every single day. She taught me that anything is possible and to go after what you want whole heartedly – chase your dreams. She taught me resilience from a young age all the way through, how to be independent and the importance of it, what it means to be strong, and to have courage in the face of adversity.
To those women out there working hard, going after what you want, pushing through tough times, being a positive influence on others, and leaving this world in a better place than you found it a day earlier.. Thank you – Keep inspiring.
We’ve set some individual and team goals at GFC. For me, getting out there and having a great season with Geelong VFL and then on to play AFLW, it’s what I have dreamed of for as long as I can remember and worked towards for the past 10 years and now I am at Geelong, I feel like I have all the resources and opportunities to help me achieve this. I will do whatever it takes to make it happen, I’ve literally committed my life to this goal.
I work full-time as a Warehouse Manager in Hoppers Crossing, train at GFC, on off days I’m either at the gym, seeing my Myotherapist, doing beach recovery or coaching/recruiting/Auskick. I’m also very passionate and want to continue to develop and inspire girls in their footy and in their lives. I’m an assistant coach at The Western Jets FC U18 ‘s and WRFL Interleague U15’s and also a Game Development officer for AFL Vic. I love these programs and personally get a lot out of being able to coach these young girls in their footy and help them realise that anything is possible for them, if you work hard enough.
What advice would you give to other women facing major life events or choices?
Surround yourself with friends/family who have goals and ambitions and when times are tough, fight harder. Be a positive influence on others, if you’ve got it tough at the moment, it makes you realise that others may have it tough too, and there’s strength in numbers, you are not alone.
It’s not the cards you’ve been dealt with, but what you do with those cards that will determine your life. Keep working hard, go after what you really want. Honestly, this life is short and whatever it is that makes you happy – do it, this life is yours.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be more confident. I think that’s something I lacked when I was younger and I still do now, but I’m working on it. I’ve learnt that being who you are and speaking about the things you are passionate about and that you believe in, is a great thing. Sometimes you have to ‘fake it til you make it’ and tell yourself you can do this, and with a bit of luck you’ll come out on top. I’d also tell myself to focus more on what I wanted when I was younger. Although I sacrificed quite a lot growing up, such as a social life outside of football (I wouldn’t change it), I think there were times where I could have made some better decisions.
Empowering women to achieve financial independence! Do you want to gain confidence and create a step by step plan to live the life you choose?