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Like a duck to water

Young Hawk to debut Oliver Hanrahan will make his debut this week against the West Coast Eagles after finding out from senior coach Alastair Clarkson.

On Thursday the 7th of December, 2017, Eastern Ranges Football Club had a Female Talent Search Day for athletes who had no previous experience in football.

17-year-old Nicki Cormack, having never played the game at all, made the decision to attend and from that moment on, was hooked.

“I knew I could kick a footy so I decided to give it a shot,” said Cormack. 

“I had never played a game before I went to the trials, but I got in and then played all the games for the season except for two.”

Her 2018 season at the Ranges turned out to be life changing for the now 18-year-old, who caught the eye of Hawthorn recruiters.

She was asked to come down and train with the VFLW side and then only weeks later was debuting in the brown and gold. 

Read: Hanrahan to debut

“My ninth game of football ever was playing for Hawthorn.”

She then continued to play another two games for the Hawks in the 2018 VFLW season.

“I was so happy with that because I didn’t even think I’d get one game.

“I wasn’t really nervous, I was excited, because I knew if I stuffed up it was okay and all the coaches were really supportive.”

Growing up, Cormack was surrounded by football with her Dad being the Vice President of her local club, Belgrave South.

“I did Auskick probably twice, but I wasn’t really involved in it, I was there because my Dad was running it.”

Like many VFLW players, Cormack decided to focus on basketball growing up, playing for representative team, Knox Raiders, all through junior basketball and then in the Victorian Youth Championship competition.

“I got offered to play representative basketball so I did that instead of footy because I thought, there’s no point in playing footy when I could only play up until under 14’s.”

Fast forward to 2019, the Hawthorn side are heading into Round 8 and Cormack has currently only missed one game for the year. But this meant she was able to finally play for her local club for the first time since she had started playing football.

“My Dad’s Dad was the founder of the Belgrave South Junior Club which is where their girl’s team first started, so debuting for them a couple weeks ago was awesome.”

Coming across from basketball, the small forward has taken some of her skills from the court to the ground.

“I think a strength of mine is probably my decision making, which I think comes from basketball.

“I also think I have good awareness and composure, which again comes from basketball too.”

Being new to the sport, the 18-year-old had to develop a lot of skills, particularly with her roles in the two sports being almost completely opposite.

“I was better at defence than offence at basketball, and I’m a forward in football now, so my roles have completely switched.”

Cormack says coming to such a big club she’s been able to learn from lots of different people.

"For example, Pip (Peschke), she just goes about her day and is very modest even when she’s been in the best multiple times now.

“I also gravitate towards Claire (Dyett) too and it’s not just because we're close friends, we just work well together on the ground.”

As she turns her focus to the rest of the season ahead, her goal is to work on her footy smarts.

“At the start of the year my main goal was to better my footy IQ, because I can kick the ball, I can handball, but I need to improve my footy IQ.

“Every week I am learning something new and it’s pretty cool to be able to play VFLW.” 

Cormack and the VFLW side will face the Western Bulldogs this Saturday at Victoria University Whitten Oval, 12:00pm.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs