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AFLW: Adelaide draftee Jessica Foley joins the Crows nest

BHP Down to Earth: Jessica Foley The Australian basketballer-turned-footballer speaks about juggling her career as a doctor.
In footy, every single member on the team is really important and you feel that amongst the group
Jessica Foley

A doctor, an Australian basketball star, and now a Crow.

Jessica Foley comes to Adelaide with a long list of accolades to her name.

Called with pick no. 30 at the 2018 AFL Women’s Draft, the 183cm utility added elite footballer to her extensive resume.

She may only have two years of competitive football under her belt, but Foley is no stranger to the life of a professional athlete.

WATCH: Foley's highlights reel

It’s been almost two decades since Foley left home as a young teen to join the Australian Institute of Sport and pursue her passion for basketball.

From there, she was offered a basketball scholarship to Duke University in the US, where she played in front of crowds of up to 35,000 and studied pre-med.

“Duke was one of the best things I’ve ever done… the school itself is so good but playing in front of those big crowds was just amazing,” she said.

Foley will join her new teammates at Adelaide's first AFLW training session on Wednesday

On return to Australia, Foley made her first appearance in the WNBL for the Adelaide Lightning in 2006, alongside the AFLW’s inaugural best and fairest winner and Crows co-captain Erin Phillips.

Ten years on from the premiership they shared in 2008, the pair will become teammates once again, except it’s a whole new ball game.

“The year we won the premiership, we [Foley and Phillips] had one of the best years of basketball we’ve ever had – our team was just so talented,” she said.

“Erin is such an amazing competitor, she puts the whole team on her back and I’ve been so impressed with her on the footy field… I can’t wait to play with her again.”

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Foley went on to play for Dandenong and Townsville before finishing her WNBL career back at the Lightning in 2015.

It was during this time that she enrolled in Uni to pursue her career in medicine.

“I always wanted to do medicine… I’ve always had a strong interest in health and wellbeing and I’ve always wanted to help people,” she said.

With her basketball days behind her and the booming popularity of the AFL Women’s competition, Foley found herself drawn to football more than ever.

“I’ve always loved watching footy and I was really impressed with the AFLW in the first two years… I went to all the Crows’ games and loved it,” she said.

“I decided to have a run with West Adelaide in the SAWFL and the next year was asked out to Sturt in the SANFLW and loved it.”

Foley in action for Sturt in the SANFLW

In her first SANFLW season, Foley took out the League Coaches Award for her breakout year and was named in the ruck for the SANFLW Team of the Year.

“The thing I’ve enjoyed most about playing footy is the camaraderie and the team environment,” she said.

“In basketball, there’s always seven players on the bench vying for court time, whereas in footy, every single member on the team is really important and you feel that amongst the group.”

For Foley, the opportunity to play for Adelaide again, but this time for football, was a pleasant surprise.

“It feels pretty special to become a Crow… I didn’t really see this in my future so it’s a bit of a surprise but I’m getting more and more excited the closer we get to training,” she said.

“Once I finished my basketball career, I never thought I’d play another sport again, let alone football, but I was so inspired by the AFLW in the first two seasons and now here I am.”

Foley will wear No. 24 in the tricolours, the same number she donned for the majority of her basketball career.

She will join her new teammates at Adelaide’s first AFLW training session on Wednesday.