WE'VE seen a fair share of unusual sporting backgrounds in the NAB AFLW competition, including ultimate frisbee, speed skating and competitive skipping.
Trampolining is a new one.
Claremont midfielder Bella Lewis is primed for selection in the West Australian pool of the NAB AFLW Draft, and while footy is where she feels she belongs, years of trampolining and gymnastics have built her core strength.
"I started playing for Subiaco junior football club in year six as a muck-around thing. I was always sporty, I did trampolining at a national level, and I'd be doing it for a while. It got to year seven and eight, and I needed something to really grab my focus," Lewis told womens.afl.
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"When I joined footy, I thought, 'this is it,' I knew straight away. I don't know what it was, it just clicked with me."
Lewis was still competing at a national level in trampolining until two years ago, when the combination of training for that sport, plus Claremont and the state (football) academy program proved to be too much.
"I did gymnastics from a young age then made the shift to trampolining, Mum was always about core strength and that kind of thing. You have a routine, get on the trampoline and present it to the judge or crowd, then get off," Lewis said.
"It was a lot of fun, and it got me really strong. To be honest with you, it was great for core strength and shoulder strength.
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"But I like the team game more. In trampolining there's way more pressure of messing up and hurting yourself than there is going out and tackling someone."
I get such a runner's high from any kind of footy running and tackling, it's a bit weird that I love it so much
Far from any fancy flips on the field, the small but powerful Lewis just loves to run. And run. And run. She's got a dangerous combination of speed and endurance, with Dana Hooker a fitting hero.
"I get such a runner's high from any kind of footy running and tackling, it's a bit weird that I love it so much," she said with a laugh.
"You run, you tackle someone, you get up and just keep running with the ball. You don't even notice you're puffed."
Lewis spent her early years in Sydney before her father was offered a promotion in the west, and it shaped her football favourites.
"I've always looked up to Adam Goodes. When we lived in Sydney, it was around the point he was receiving a lot of flak and negative media," Lewis said.
"He's one of the greatest players, and he was just getting all this crap for silly stuff. He was just such a role model."
While Lewis has had to ban herself from taking advantage of her McDonald's employee discount ("it was just getting really bad", she said ruefully), an injury-free run came to an end this year.
The 17-year-old managed only three of a possible seven games for Claremont in a COVID-shortened WAFLW season this year and was unable to take part in the West Australian NAB AFLW All Stars match.
"I dislocated my finger just before round one, and three or four weeks ago I tore two ligaments in my ankle.
"I wasn't sure about my draft chances, and everyone at school – people who aren't in footy, they don't really understand. It's like, 'you're in the national academy, you'll get drafted.'
"But it's good that the injuries have happened to me now, because I've learnt how to deal with it a bit more. And with that comes with resilience."
The NAB AFLW Draft will be live on womens.afl and the AFLW Official App from 7pm AEDT on Tuesday, October 6