FOR CASEY Demons new recruit Ally Kirkwood joining the team has already been like a dream come true.
“I love the Club,” Kirkwood told Melbourne Media.
“I love the girls… I have already formed some really strong relationships with the team.
“I really like the coaches, I am learning lots.
“Plus the drive isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.”
The humble 22-year-old has become a part of the formidable Demons defence, where her stellar play to begin season 2019, has been instrumental in holding opponents to an average of 25.5 points per game.
But while she has become an integral part of the team, it was her own initiative which resulted in Kirkwood getting to this point.
“I saw the application for the Casey Demons trial day online,” Kirkwood said.
“I applied online, they invited me to come down for pre-season. I turned up and now I am in the team.”
After two great games, the Casey faithful sure are thankful Kirkwood filled out the online application form.
Although it would not have been long before VFLW coaches started knocking on Kirkwood’s door.
The 174cm defender surged onto VFLW team radars after a marvellous 2018 season playing for Old Geelong in the VAFA.
Repeatedly being amongst the best players in Old Geelong’s dominant season.
But like many before her, the increased level of VFLW has meant a new set of challenges for Kirkwood caused by the step up in competition.
“There has been a lot of changes in the standard of the footy from the VAFA to the VFLW,” Kirkwood said.
“The players at the VFLW lever are able to read the play easier, so they are making quicker decisions.
“There is a different level of intensity… But I am really enjoying it.”
After a solid pre-season and two rounds of the early season, Kirkwood continues to explore both what she can do on the football field, but also what she will work on to be able to do for the red and blue in the future.
“I am still finding my feet… I am learning to play to my strengths,” Kirkwood said.
“I know what they are at the moment. But I’m trying to build the other parts of my game.
“I know I am ready to take on the play, give it a crack and if I make a few mistakes then that is okay too, but I will learn from it.”
It has been an already impressive short foray into football for Kirkwood.
Like many of her teammates on our uber-talented Casey Demons VFLW list, Kirkwood comes to footy as a cross-code sportswoman.
“I’ve been playing mainly netball and tennis my whole life,” Kirkwood said.
“But I love football, it is different from netball obviously because you can tackle and be a little bit more aggressive on the field.
“I love the team aspect of football… Being in the bigger team is much better than netball.”
Being a part of the team is essential on the football team, but exemplified by the Demons focus of ‘Stronger Together’ for 2019.
A motto Kirkwood believes her and her teammates focus on every match.
“I live for team sports, so the Casey motto of ‘stronger together’ is perfect,” Kirkwood.
“I know 100% of the time if we are all working together and doing everything together, whether that is chasing down players or backing one another up… We are going to be strong together.
“I definitely believe in our motto and I definitely believe that at Casey we are doing that for sure.”
When she isn’t playing on the football field or the netball court, Kirkwood is still involved in sports, coaching future sportswomen, teaching them fundamentals but also sharing with them her passion for sports.
“This would be my fifth year of coaching netball,” Kirkwood said.
“I love coaching kids and teaching sport... I hope I am teaching them to be passionate about their sport.”
But one unexpected benefits for Kirkwood after spending time patrolling the sidelines and sitting in the coach’s chair is learning the intricacies of her sports.
“Coaching gives me an entirely different perspective of the game,” Kirkwood said.
“I have just starting coaching senior women’s football too, so I get to see another side of footy.
“I hope what I am teaching, I am doing on the field myself too.”
Kirkwood is passionate, tremendously gifted, and always active.
Whether she’s enjoying catching up with friends, heading to the beach, or boxing in her spare time, the talented youngster gives everything she does her all.
Even trying her hand at acting in her past, and revealing she knows how to play the piano and the guitar, Kirkwood is an impressive individual, and continues striving to learn and take on new challenges.
Her new challenge and quickly becoming her new found love away from football is long distance running, a new hobby she has quickly come to embrace and continues to push her limits.
“I did my first half marathon last year, so I have kind of got a little bit hooked,” Kirkwood said laughingly.
“I want to do the North Face 100 in the future.”
You might be asking what the North Face 100 is, Kirkwood explains.
“It is a 100-kilometre ultra-marathon race in the Blue Mountains in Australia,” Kirkwood said.
“But it is a long time away, maybe in like 10, 20 years.
“That is when I am older… Footy is the focus now.”
There is an undivided determination to the words of Kirkwood, and she has a laser focus to her goal.
“I want to play AFLW,” Kirkwood said.
“I want to play at the highest level of the sport I can.
“I’m ready to give it 110% towards achieving my goal.”
If Kirkwood continues to perform with the enthusiasm and passion she has already shown, then she is well on the way to achieving her dream.
But she isn’t letting her focus drift too far into the future, rather setting more immediate goals for herself and the team for seasons ahead.
“For me individually, I would love to kick a goal at some point,” Kirkwood said.
“I will be playing backline and the wing, so it would be great taking a few bounces down the wing and kicking a goal.
“But the focus is on our team and I would love to see us make the finals and win a premiership.
“I think we can do it, I know we have the premiership mentality.
“We have trained really hard and we all have the competitive drive to do it.”
Some exhilarating words for Casey fans from an exhilarating talent on the rise.
Demons fans would love to see the number 34 running down the wing towards the goals for a long time to come.