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AFLW: Monty's unorthodox journey to the women's league

McKinnon's unorthodox journey to AFLW Adelaide's first pick in the 2019 AFLW draft sat down with AFC Media.
To be Adelaide’s first draft pick is unreal, it’s definitely something that when I was little, I never thought would be possible,
Montana McKinnon

Not many can say their first sports game was at state level, but for Crows draftee Montana McKinnon, the first time she ran onto a footy field was in a South Australian guernsey.

Even more impressive is the fact that she was just 14 years old.

Having played netball at underage state level and volleyball at school, McKinnon decided to try something new.

She went to a come and try day for the state academy – where the Under-18 National Championships side is selected.

Knowing she was too young to make the side, McKinnon went along for the experience - but her raw talent caught the eyes of the coaches.

A week before the National Championships carnival in Melbourne, she got a call up to the side and travelled interstate.

Wearing the state colours, McKinnon played her first football match against New South Wales.

Looking back, she described her first match as a daunting experience.

“It was really scary playing my first game, especially because I definitely looked up the positions the night before,” she said with a laugh.

“I wasn’t really familiar, but I definitely got a few touches and a mark.”

From there, McKinnon’s career flourished.

She played SANFLW football with Glenelg at 15, before moving to South Adelaide and winning back-to-back premierships with them in 2018 and 2019.

The promising ruck continued to compete in the National Championships in the years following, captaining the Central Allies and becoming a dual All-Australian in 2019.

The 18-year-old was then taken as the Crows first pick in the 2019 AFLW draft in October.

 

Thinking about how far she’s come, McKinnon said she couldn’t help but get goosebumps.

“To be Adelaide’s first draft pick is unreal, it’s definitely something that when I was little, I never thought would be possible,” McKinnon said.

“I’ve been pretty lucky, I didn’t come into the sport at a young age, I was pretty late into the sport.

“The first two years I was going okay, but the last year and a half have been really big and everything just picked up at once and came from nowhere.”

Over the past four years, McKinnon has met, played with and been supported by a number of her now Crows teammates.

There is one in particular who has been a big mentor throughout the years.

Courtney Cramey was actually my very first coach at Under-15s down at Morphies, so she’s played a really big role,” McKinnon said.

“She’s always sort of been that person I look up to, she’s always messaging me, ‘how are you going’, ‘how’s football’ and stuff.

“Then I’ve got the players that are around my age, Nikki Gore, Eloise Jones, Anne Hatchard, all of them were really good with me, playing alongside them and against them.

“It’s really good coming into a club with familiar faces, it’s not as daunting.”