It is always a nervous moment when you walk through the doors of your new football club, unsure of the reception you will receive. But for Nicole Hales, it has only been a positive experience at the Demons since day dot.
“The first thing I’ll say is that the facilities are awesome,” Hales said when speaking with Melbourne Media.
“And then the coaching group have been really awesome and everyone has been really welcoming.
“For me, when I first walked through the doors, every player said hi and they just wanted you to be comfortable.
“Everyone is always up and about and full of energy at training which creates such a positive environment.”
Hales’ passion for footy developed at a young age, going through the pathways of Auskick to junior football and then playing senior football at VFLW level.
“I started playing footy when I was really young around seven years old and was the only girl at my Auskick and junior football club, Greensborough,” Hales said.
“I played with the boys from Under 10s until I was 13 when you had to leave footy. I was the only girl at the club and played 50 games.
“After Greensborough, I went to Diamond Creek for the rest of my juniors until I was 19 and progressed to the seniors, and from there moved onto VFL, where I went to the next phase of my footy career.”
Hales notched up her 50th VFLW game on the weekend, certainly a great feat to be very proud of. No stranger to reaching the ultimate glory and what it takes to get there, Hales attributes her form this season to staying focused on the old football cliche - one week at a time.
“I had no idea actually [that it was my 50th game]. It’s a massive achievement when you think about it and certainly something to be proud of,” Hales said.
“Every week in my diary I write down my focuses and goals for the game and we do that as a backline group as well.
“Basically, I write what I need to improve on, whether it’s sticking on my player, or making sure I block after handballing, or just being in the best position and not getting caught up to high, and making sure my disposals are efficient.”
The Demons went into a tough game on Saturday against a Western Bulldogs side that was clinging to the possibility of still playing finals. Whilst Casey put up a good challenge, some inconsistencies cost them the game.
“Overall, we had glimpses. Obviously, it wasn’t enough to achieve a win and we weren’t able to play our game,” Hales said.
“Coming into next weekend, we need to focus on making sure our glimpses are the whole game and not just parts of it.
“It’s not that we weren’t trying hard, however, I think we can put in a little more effort.”
As the Demons head towards their maiden finals appearance in the VFLW, Hales is no stranger to the pressure and excitement they bring, or what the possibilities could be.
“I’ve played in finals before in the VFLW so I know how exciting and overwhelming it can be,” Hales said.
“It’s an honour being in another finals campaign and it’s a massive achievement for the group and I am really excited and pumped to be playing finals again.
“The coaching staff and players have really made it something special and I think we are all really excited to take on what comes ahead of us.
“This weekend as a team, we have just got focus on playing as a group and our roles, and for me, I just want to put my head down and focus on how the team and coaches want me to play that will help push us over the line against Essendon.”