Blues fan Barwick’s positive outlook keeps small strong

MISSING your entire top-age year due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury might be a reason to drift into negative thought patterns, but for Tasmanian Brooke Barwick, she has kept her focus on the positives.

The AFLW Academy and top 10 talent tore her ACL during the preseason, forcing her to the sidelines throughout 2023, but it has not dampened her spirits. The 158cm midfielder said she was feeling “really good” with how her knee was progressing.

“Obviously wasn’t the best start but I think it just was to make sure I switched my mindset into positive, not negative,” Barwick said at the AFLW Draft Combine. “Not let it destroy my year and how I go about it. It’s been going really well, running and jumping now nad hitting all the targets that I should be.”

Barwick was unable to test at the Combine, but has been working hard on both her physical and mental fitness in the lead-up to the December 18 draft.

“It can be such a challenging time leading into the draft and not really having that reassurance on where to go, so it’s making sure that I’m really organised in my physical fitness and mentally as well, just so I’m not overwhelmed and stressful leading up to the draft,” Barwick said.

Throughout this year, Barwick took up a coaching role with the Tasmania Devils, assisting her teammates and learning as well as teaching to add a different string to her bow.

“It’s been great actually,” she said. “I think it will really helped me coming back into the game, really learning and implementing so many skills and also how to play the game as well.

“Having that coaching role really helped me going forward and I think it’s a really good thing to get into because not many players will start learning about this until after their career so it’s just a hopefully one-up for when I return.”

Barwick admitted it was difficult at times having to watch from the bench rather than be out there physically impacting contests, but she rode the wave of support for the Devils who reached the Talent League Girls finals series.

“Obviously it can be upsetting but like I said, just having that mindset to switch back into the positive and be really happy for them,” she said. “I was so supportive of the girls and made sure I had a little bit of the input, especially in the midfield.

“That’s just having that previous experience from there. I think just making sure I really get around them and help them at quarter time and all that going through in the final.”

Brooke Barwick in action for the Allies last year | Image credit: Rookie Me Central

Given the competition for spots on-ball at the elite level, Barwick is fully prepared to play in another role. Given her strengths that include defensive pressure as well as outstanding skill, she could easily slot into a small forward position at AFLW level.

“I think definitely trying to become a midfielder in the comp now is quite challenging, there’s so many good midfielders out there,” Barwick said. “I think just starting and pushing my way through if I just start as a small forward role and I think I really want to be a very versatile player and really earn my spot. I’d love to start as a small forward and work my way into the midfield.”

Tasmania does not have its own elite level team yet, so for players hailing from the Apple Isle, relocation is a non-negotiable. The Devils players can nominate a state of preference, and though Barwick is “very open at the moment” and was definitely keen to take up “whatever opportunity comes my way”, Victoria was an option.

The Carlton fan said she would “absolutely” love to end up at Princes Park, and has enjoyed watching them develop throughout the season.

“I think being a Carlton supporter since I was a child really makes me look up to them highly and yeah I’d love to play there,” Barwick said. “Their team is going really well at the moment after having a bit of a switch in their playing style, so it would be an absolute dream to play for Carlton.”

Remaining open-minded with her potential destination, Barwick said she enjoyed the process of talking to AFLW club recruiters as it was as much getting to know about the club as it was for the club to know about the draft prospect.

“It’s been great, all the club’s are very comfortable to talk with, and if you’re just yourself then everything will be fine,” she said. “I think having the great insight of a club and learning more about them is really great to go forward and see what you’re getting yourself into.”

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