For Collingwood VFLW Magpie Katie Lee, football has always played a major role in her life.
Whether it is watching a game on TV with her family, or going to her dad’s matches on the weekend, she is surrounded by the sport.
But, surprisingly, the 23-year-old only picked up a Sherrin herself just over two years ago.
Having grown up playing soccer, she came to a point where she realised she’d lost her passion for the game.
This was around the time the AFLW began to rise and an interest in women’s footy started to boom.
So, Lee put down the soccer ball and thought she’d give footy a go.
Her first stop? Collingwood’s first VFLW talent search day.
Little did she know she’d go on to be signed to their inaugural team.
“I honestly didn’t know where it would take me but I was just so excited to be signed and to know I’d be playing footy,” Lee told collingwoodfc.com.au.
“It’s provided me with an opportunity to develop my skills as simple as learning to kick the ball and I’ve loved every minute of it.”
In her first year with the side, she found herself in the backline. Impressing week in, week out, she was often named as one of the team’s best.
But this season she’s been challenged with a role up forward, a move she’s thoroughly stood up to, averaging five disposals, four kicks and three tackles, and even managing to get a few goals on the board as well.
“Having been told I’d be playing as a forward this season, I was a little bit nervous at first, but it’s allowed me to understand how versatile I can be,” she said.
“It’s also been beneficial for me as a defender to learn how forwards move.”
But apart from running out in all of the 11 games of the Pies’ season so far, she says she’s most enjoyed the opportunity to be a leader within the team.
“Being named in the leadership group I feel very honoured that people see me in that light and as a role model and I’m really enjoying it.”
Away from the field, Lee works full time at Global Wellness Tracking, which she said has been vital to her development as an athlete.
“My job works hand-in-hand with footy and it’s made me think about my own health and wellness.
“Applying my work to my footy has helped me develop a different mindset, a new fitness point of view and I’ve gotten fit and healthy.”
With the Pies currently perched on top of the VFLW ladder with only a single loss to their names, they find themselves in a similar position to last season.
Lee put her team’s success down to a positive environment and a consistent effort from the entire group which she is confident will be carried through into the remaining three games of the home-and-away season.
“There was an amazing culture last year particularly around the playing group and its been transferred through into this season,” she said.
“The coaching staff continue to put in endless time and effort to truly help us be the best we can be and we’re really focused on constant improvement.”
With this year’s AFLW draft approaching, Lee admitted her ultimate goal is to be drafted, but she remains positive that if it’s not meant to be she’ll continue to play footy no matter what.
“It would be so incredible to hear my name read out at the draft because footy is my dream.
“But for right now my main focus is playing the best footy I can for the team.
“If it doesn’t happen, I’d still play, nothing will stop me from getting out there on the field.”