SECOND efforts are the type of one-percent plays often left to the all-action small players who buzz at the feet of talls and make a menace of themselves. In that aspect, Calder Cannons‘ Claudia Santoro defies her size.
While she defines her ability to never give up on the play as “standing tall”, the top-age defender got down to business last season with an average of four tackles per game. Those numbers highlight her strengths, and even still, there is room to improve.
“One of my strengths is repeat efforts,” Santoro said. “It’s continuing on and never giving up, just standing tall and if something bad goes wrong to keep on going.
“Because I am quite tall and do have a bit of a height advantage, I feel like my high marking (needs improvement) and also ground balls. I’ve got to get a little bit lower.”
The 17-year-old kicked off her 2022 NAB League Girls campaign on Saturday in a familiar defensive post, but has showcased strong versatility thus far. Across four outings as a bottom-ager, Santoro did enough to earn a Vic Metro Under 17s jumper and is happy to feature on any line for both state and club.
“I’m not necessarily looking to make one position my own,” she said. “I don’t mind playing around and getting to know each position because I feel like it always is unexpected where you’re going to be put.
“The (Vic Metro Under 17) experience was good because we trained with Under 19s as well, so to keep up with their standards considering they were about to make the AFLW was great.
“Just to know how they train and how hard they go. Also, because all the girls from the NAB League were coming together, seeing faces that we’ve played against and to be part of a team together was really good.”
Along with her footballing aspirations, Santoro is also “giving (her) all” to Year 12 studies and seeing what heights she can achieve in both. In a sporting sense, it’s fair to say she has come a long way from where she began.
“When I was about 14-years-old I started at Aberfeldie but my parents were a bit worried about me playing, so I just trained for a whole year, then my first season was in Under 15s,” she said.
A couple of interleague and academy stints later, and the promising tall is primed to tackle a big season of football ahead.