Magic McKee set to return to reigning premiers

A YEAR is a long time in football, as young gun Georgia McKee found out last year. A breakthrough star of Central District’s squad at just 15 years-old in 2022, the then bottom-ager found herself watching on last season as the Bulldogs took the next step to premiership glory.

Having torn her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during an innocuous soccer incident over the off-season, McKee – who was one of the Dogs’ best the year before in her debut campaign – had to operate from the bench, instead providing support for her teammates.

“I was upset that I couldn’t be a part of that premiership team, but I also liked having the encouragement helping my teammates out,” McKee said. “When they won it I was super excited for them and so proud to say that my team won the premiership so I’m really excited to get back on board and hopefully win another one. That would be awesome.”

Getting back into full running post-Christmas, McKee said the injury – like many ACL tears – came out of nowhere.

“I played school soccer just being a child still thinking I’d be alright playing,” she said. “Obviously went down on my knee. It was a long journey, but I learnt so much and now I’m excited to get back and to be who I was and hopefully I have the same skill and build up heaps and hopefully get drafted.”

McKee said her rehabilitation process went “really well”, now set to join a more new-look forwardline than when she left with Katelyn Rosenzweig and Chantel Reynolds providing marking targets, and rotating youngsters Jasmine Evans and Sophie Eaton also dangerous options.

The top-ager said she was looking forward to see how the front five gelled together, and was confident that the Bulldogs’ forwards would gel well. As for her role, McKee believed it would be a forward-midfield hybrid.

“I think I’m going to be a forward rotation into the mid hopefully,” McKee said. “Having a chat with ‘Rexy’ (Central District coach Ben Hunt) he said that he’s going to try and maybe see how I go in the mid and forward, which would be really good to experience that again.”

McKee’s journey started from the age of six, where she went from Elizabeth Eagles to Glenunga Rams before making her way into the Central District squad. Her ability was evident at the region’s talent shield, and before long she was with the senior squad and producing match-winning performances like she did against West Adelaide in Round 3.

With the Bulldogs searching for their first win and down at half time, McKee spearheaded an incredible four-goal second half to single-handedly drag her side over the line. Though she was clearly the difference, the humble McKee said it was a team effort.

“It was amazing,” she said. “I just didn’t even think about it, I just did what I could and it just came to me in that way. It was just a great experience to have all my teammates around me, surrounding me telling me I did a good job and gave me that extra boost of confidence. I was really excited to celebrate with them as it was our first win, so I was super excited to get that on the board.”

Georgia McKee representing South Australia at the 2022 AFLW Under 18 Championships on Adelaide Oval. Image credit: Rookie Me Central

McKee is not the only talented top-ager in Central District’s side, with teammates Charlotte Riggs and Evans also members of the prestigious AFL Women’s Academy. McKee described getting the invitation to the Academy as “surreal” and she hoped it was the first step in getting her closer to living out her AFL Women’s dream.

“My goal is to put in the hard yards and do the best that I can to get drafted,” McKee said. “Especially win another flag as well, that would be awesome so hopefully it’s a highlight of the year to have and a really good experience and year to have.”

A Crows fan at heart, McKee says she looks up to Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff as inspirations on the field.

“I’ve always watched them since football started and when they joined, they’ve just got amazing skills and they just work together and they’re just surreal,” she said. “I hope to play alongside them one day.”

As for her game, McKee rates her tackling and second efforts, alongside her speed as some of her weapons, while she is looking to build up her fitness again and learn the Bulldogs’ game plan which has developed over the last 18 months.

Her parents have had the greatest impact on her career, with McKee thanking them for all their support over the years, as well as her teammates.

“When I first started playing football, I came from a soccer background when I was younger,” McKee said. “Mum and dad have always followed my journey the whole way and pushed me through as much as they can and helped me out to develop. Then also my teammates, couldn’t thank them more than what they’ve done for me and all my family and all their support.”

Now on the edge of a new season, McKee is hungry to taste the premiership success that she had to watch from the sidelines. There is little doubting she will put her best foot forward and do whatever she can to experience that again, but this time as a player.

“Put as best effort as I can to help them out,” McKee said. “Make sure I get those one percenters, help them out, do whatever I can to make the team work and hopefully learn the gameplan and get back to playing football.”

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