Nick Shipley hopes his AFL story, which has only just begun, will inspire other Campbelltonians to chase their dreams.
The 18-year-old Campbelltown resident was selected as the number 64 pick by the Greater Western Sydney Giants in last Friday’s AFL draft .
In typical style, the midfielder who prefers to do the more gritty, less flashy work for the betterment of the team, was focused on how his selection might impact local youngsters.
“It gives other kids hope that it can happen if you train and work hard,” he said.
The former Mount Carmel Catholic College and Kearns Public School student said his selection was justification for all the hard work he had put in over the years.
But he was still coming to terms with being selected.
“I was unreal,” he said.
“I can’t describe the feeling, it’s probably the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life.
“It (playing AFL) has now become a job for me. It’s a dream come true and something that I’ve always wanted.”
The teen will now get to surround himself with some of the game’s most talented names like the tenacious Toby Greene and 2011 number one draft pick Jonathon Patton, when he heads off to work at Greater Western Sydney Giants headquarters.
While he’ll be able to draw on the likes of Greene and Patton for inspiration and motivation, he said it would be a former AFL great – who also grew up in Sydney – who he’ll keep in mind when looking for a player to model his game on.
“I really liked Lenny Hayes and his defensive aspects,” he said.
“He made the most tackles of anyone to play to game.
“(As a player) I also just like to do the right thing for the team.”
Shipley’s selection in the draft also saw his name etched in the history books of his club, becoming the Giants first western Sydney draftee.
While he has been in the GWS academy for a few years, the transition into the club’s top squad was no fait accompli.
And the achievement was not lost on his is academy coach, Jason Saddington.
“Nick’s super driven. He’d always be asking ‘What do I need to do to get better, how can I get better and what do you think of that?’ to the point where sometimes he’d overdo it and push himself too hard at times,” he said.
“He’s a very driven kid who’s got a super character and a great family that supports him. He’s worked on every aspect of his game to get better.
“He’s a western Sydney boy so we’re really proud about that as an academy.”