MELBOURNE had signed multitalented athlete Catherine Phillips as its latest addition to the club’s AFL Women’s team in 2017.
Phillips, an elite ultimate frisbee player, comes to the club as a Category B rookie.
A six-time representative for Australia in ultimate frisbee, her achievements include a gold medal at the 2010 world championships and captaining the first non-North American team to win the sport’s US Open title in 2015.
The 24-year-old mechanical engineer joined Melbourne University’s VFL women’s side in 2016 and played seven games this season, including the recent VFL Women’s Grand Final.
Up until two years ago, Phillips had virtually zero AFL experience instead taking up ultimate frisbee, a high intensity and self-refereed game, as a teenager.
“I started playing ultimate frisbee at the end of Year 10 [in 2007] as my older sister [Michelle] played with the Melbourne Uni team,” she said.
Cat Phillips as a Category B rookie ahead of next year’s women’s competition (Photo: Matthew Goodrope)
“Between now and then, I’ve played with a number of Australian teams from Under 19s to Under 23s and now in the open team so it’s been really fun; I love the community and the game.
“I then trained with the Melbourne Uni footy team during their pre-season about two years ago because I wanted to do some cross-training for my ultimate.
“I ended up loving it; I loved the environment and how hard all the girls worked.”
Blessed with both speed and endurance, Phillips attended the AFL’s National Talent Search at the start of the year where she impressed with her fitness and running ability.
“Ultimate is quite high intensity with a lot of running; the girls from ultimate who attended the AFL Talent Search were all up the top in running like the beep test and 20m sprint,” she said.
“It shows that the fitness and running we have from that is really comparable to what you need in footy.
“The running patterns that they have in ultimate are also really similar to footy so I can read the play quite well and know where to run.”
Phillips, who played at center-half forward for Melbourne University, says her power lies in her athleticism.
“My strengths are in my work rate up and down the ground and being able to run a lot.
“I think I will be better suited on the wing – just being able to have a role where I can run a lot, stick with my player and get free on the rebound.”
Phillips said she is excited to join Melbourne ahead of next year’s inaugural women’s competition.
“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to play with a group of women who are all like-minded in their approach to train harder and compete at an elite level,” she said.
“I see Melbourne as being a leader in the women’s AFL competition in terms of the people they have involved.
“The club has already put so much into it and they’re clearly very committed to making it work and being in it for the long haul.”