Charlie Thomas has gone from a year 12 graduate to a West Coast Eagles AFLW-listed player in a matter of months.

After being drafted while completing her final term at John Septimus Roe, Thomas admitted the first few months managing both sporting and schooling commitments were ‘really overwhelming’.

But after graduating in the past month, the 18-year-old has settled into a structured routine at the club alongside fellow draftees Sarah Lakay and Em Bennett, as well as Courtney Rowley and Beth Schiling, who are completing year 12 exams.

“Having it fully gone, fully finished, completely out of my brain, it frees up so much head space as well as physical time,” Thomas explained.

“It’s just so exciting, I’m a footy player now, I’m the same as everyone else, I can be there as much as everyone else.

“I’m not set back, I don’t have to come in later than anyone, it’s up to me now.

“I’m not restricted by other things, it’s now me.”

And the Subiaco Lions product has already impressed coach at training, despite being sidelined for several months in 2021 due to a wrist injury and playing only one match for the year.

After being placed in the midfield group, Thomas has showcased an inherent ability to read the play and solid football nous, but is also relishing the opportunity to learn off senior players in the side and further develop her craft as an inside and outside midfielder.

“I’m definitely learning so much off of ‘Swanny’ (Emma Swanson), just watching her in drills, watching the way she moves around stoppages and manoeuvres players,” she said.

“Just learning off of her and analysing what she does every time she’s near the footy.

“I’ve also been getting some tips from ‘Gibbo’ (Kellie Gibson) talking about how she uses her body to get around players and stuff like that. Also ‘Bows’ (Mikayla Bowen) out on the wing.

“But seriously, all of the girls are happy to help you.”

The tall utility is also enjoying working under new AFLW coach Michael Prior, and the two have been focussed predominantly on strength and endurance, as well as game plan and education.

Michael Prior has been fantastic, he likes to treat everyone equally, there’s no preconceived notion or expectation of any player. I think it’s really good, everyone’s coming from the same spot,” she said.

“He’s really good, he takes time to get to know you as a person and he’ll have a joke with you here and there which keeps things light, it’s great.”

As well as her efforts on-field, Thomas has also slotted in seamlessly amongst the group off-field, and is hoping that the relationships fostered in her first few months will transfer across on game day.

“Just being involved in off-field stuff as well, like going to get meatballs after training on Friday night and things like that, and putting in effort to get to know people other than just on the training track,” she said.

“Actually making conversation with people and finding out what they do with their lives and away from football. Because footy is only a sub-section of our lives, so to get to know people is really important I think.

“So just making an effort to get to know people and to get along with people, which is pretty easy.”

Thomas has also earned herself a new nickname – 'Noodle' – after an experience at iFly with teammates.

“It’s a bit dodgy, but a couple of weeks after we got drafted, the girls, ‘Stubbsy’ (Courtney Guard) hooked us up with iFly indoor skydiving tickets,” she said.

“We were doing it, and then it was my go, and everyone was pretty good, so I was like ‘everyone’s got it, I should be fine’.

“I jumped in and my legs and my arms just went everywhere, where they probably weren’t meant to.

“It was not a good sight, but I didn’t even realise I was that bad until I saw videos, then I think one of the girls said I look like the inflatable things out the front of car yards,” she laughed.

“So that’s where noodle came from. Now it’s 'Noods', or 'Noodle', or 'Beef Noodle', anything related to noodles, it’s a bit of a laugh.”