She might have only started playing football a year ago, but talented Albany product Sophie McDonald will fly with the Eagles in 2020.
The former Western Australian hockey star became the club’s final pre-draft acquisition when she put pen to paper on an AFLW contract this week.
McDonald first came to the club’s attention when she participated in its 2018 Women’s Alternate Sport Talent Search, which took place at Subiaco Oval on October 13.
Head of female football Adam Selwood was so impressed with McDonald’s audition that he invited her to train with the club’s High Performance Female Academy, where her game continued to evolve under the watchful eye of West Coast’s dedicated AFLW staff.
In spite of her relative inexperience, McDonald cemented a spot in Claremont’s WAFLW league side and quickly became a key member of the Tigers’ defensive unit.
Astoundingly, McDonald earned selection in WA’s AFLW 18s squad on the back of her strong WAFLW form and represented the state at this year’s NAB AFLW National 18s Championships.
Selwood said McDonald’s quick rise through the footballing ranks was a testament to her work ethic.
He said the club was thrilled to have her on board for its inaugural AFLW campaign.
“We are really excited about Sophie’s prospects,” Selwood said.
“Her ability to play both ends of the ground is really natural and her athletic ability is impressive.
“She’s very competitive. When she crosses that white line you can see that she wants to win.
“She might be new to the game, but we see her being a really strong pillar of our program for many years to come.”
McDonald said she was ecstatic to sign with West Coast.
“I would not have thought at the start of this year that I’d come anywhere close to being on an AFLW list,” McDonald said.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet. Sometimes I catch myself thinking, ‘Wow, I’m going to be playing for the Eagles next year’. It’s honestly amazing.”
The 19-year-old hoped to hone her defensive craft and build on her natural athletic attributes during the club’s upcoming pre-season.
“I played as a key defender this year and I think I came a long way from my first game of the year, but I know I’ve got a lot more work to do,” McDonald said.
“My height is crucial to the way I play and I think my speed is a bit underrated; I don’t think people realise how quick I am,” she said.
“I’d like to think my ability to stay composed in the big moments is another strength of mine. I don’t see myself as someone who stresses out in a big game. I can keep calm and direct the play.”