Crows AFL Women’s recruit Monique Hollick is reaching for the stars on and away from the field.
Next year, Hollick will pursue a football career at the elite level, while working as a Satellite Engineer.
It’s a unique combination but one that fits nicely for the high-achieving 26-year-old who is as athletic as she is academic. While football is a new pursuit, Hollick’s love of space is longstanding.
“It was over the summer holidays when I was about eight that I took to my parents’ Funk and Wagnall’s Encyclopaedias and did a project on my own about space,” Hollick said.
“I drew pictures of all the planets and wrote down facts about them in a book. It was a bit of a nerdy thing to do! But since then it’s been a pretty strong passion.”
Hollick’s love of all things astronomical has already taken her to NASA.
After achieving an ATAR score of 99.65, Hollick completed an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering and Physics at the University of Western Australia. In her Physics Honours year, Hollick completed a project analysing data about moon dust from the Apollo missions.
“There was a graduate lunar conference over at NASA in California. It was quite fortunate that my project fitted into the niche category of the conference,” she said.
“I had to pay my own way, but I just thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
“My brother Rhett came with me. We had a ball in America and I got to say I presented at NASA!”
Post-university, Hollick worked as a Mechanical Engineer at mines in Port Headland and also Newman, where new Crows teammate Chelsea Randall worked in the community and male counterpart Charlie Cameron’s parents are also based.
After nearly two years, Hollick decided to chase her space dream again, quitting her job in WA and enrolling in a Masters course in Satellite Systems Engineering at the University of NSW.
In between, Hollick returned to Adelaide where she was born and lived with her family until they moved to WA for her parents’ work in the mid-1990s.
She grew up kicking the Sherrin with Rhett and father Greg, who played 38 games for Richmond as well as league football with SANFL club West Adelaide.
Hollick always enjoyed football, but played netball and was also an elite middle-distance runner.
“My brother played footy and cricket and I played netball and did athletics,” she said.
“I grew up with that conception that girls don’t play footy. By the time I was a teenager and realised that girls did actually play footy, I was pretty absorbed in my running career.”
She was a state junior champion in the 800 metres and 1500 metres.
Hollick continued to compete in the sport until the age of 21 when she took a step closer to an eventual football career.
“When it got to the point that I couldn’t see myself going to the Olympics for running, I decided to try my hand at boundary umpiring,” she said.
“I always enjoyed watching footy. I thought it was too late for me to take up playing the game and I figured boundary umpiring was a good compromise.”
After two years umpiring in the WAFL, Hollick returned to running competitively.
She was ranked as high as 10th in Australia over 800 metres but after falling short of Olympic qualification standard again, was ready for a change.
Jen Hollick provided her daughter with the motivation she needed.
“Mum saw an ad for the women’s football talent search and dared me to go along to see how I went. I never shy away from a challenge so I said, ‘Okay, I’ll show you’,” she said.
“I thought my best chance was to do really well in the beep test to get the coaches to notice me.
“Maybe, then they would have a look at me when we went outside to do the skills.”
Hollick did do really well in the beep test – setting a new record (at the time) of 13.8. She also remembered how to kick from her backyard sessions with Rhett.
In the process of moving to Sydney to complete her studies, Hollick joined the NSW academy and played her first-ever football game in March.
It was a trial match to determine selection for the upcoming exhibition series.
“I don’t know why because I think I only had two touches that trial game but for some reason the coaches thought I had potential and selected me for the first exhibition game!” she said.
“My second-ever game was the Swans v Giants exhibition game out the front of the SCG and I still didn’t know what I was doing! By my third game, I managed to get the most disposals on the ground so I learned pretty quickly.”
Hollick was selected for the NSW/ACT team, which ventured to Adelaide Oval to play against SA in June. The midfielder was the second-highest possession-getter that day.
When the Crows learned she was planning to return to Adelaide for work in 2017 (having become the first person to graduate from a Masters in Satellite Systems Engineering at UNSW), they snapped her up in the inaugural AFL Women’s Draft.
“It’s all happened so quickly. I’ve played 10 games, I think, of football in total,” she said.
“I still feel a bit raw and I’ve got a lot to learn, but hopefully I can do that over the next few months.
“It’s exciting and a bit scary too!”