Busy Dee: Draftee aims to combine elite footy and netball

MELBOURNE draftee Maggie Caris isn't content with succeeding at the highest level in just one sport. 

Having been selected with pick No.17 by the Demons in the NAB AFLW Draft, Caris is also a defender with the Melbourne Vixens academy/train-on group and is in the preliminary squads for the Australian U19 team and the U21 Youth World Cup. 

Caris' regular team is Vic Fury, who play in the feeder league to the top-level Super Netball competition.

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The 17-year-old ruck only took up footy in earnest in 2016, playing for Horsham Saints after a few sporadic matches at school.

Two years later, the Quantong local started boarding at Ballarat Grammar at the start of year 10, following in older sister Rene's footsteps by playing school footy and with NAB League side GWV Rebels. 

Rene is now coming into her third season with Geelong. 

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"I'm one of four. Rene's the oldest, I've got an older brother and a little sister. My dad's side is a very keen football family, so Dad was always eager to get us out in the backyard with a footy in our hands, doing whatever we could," Caris told womens.afl.

"He's very excited to have two daughters drafted to AFLW teams. He was really proud of us. He taught us Auskick at Quantong when we were little, so to see us grow up and have the same opportunities as everyone else is really good."

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Caris' parents drove the 200km from Quantong to Ballarat to watch the draft with their daughter, renting a place off-campus.

"The girls in the boarding house also watched it, they filmed their reaction and it'll be really special to look back on. It was such a crazy night, but I was very grateful for the support of my friends and family," Caris told womens.afl

"I was watching the first round and so happy for the girls I'd played with at (NAB AFLW) Academy and Vic Country and at the Championships, they're phenomenal players and I was so proud of them. 

"There was a little break and I was pottering around trying to calm my nerves, then all of a sudden I sat back down, and my mum was like 'look'. I couldn't believe it, it sort of makes my head spin just thinking about it."

Caris still has school commitments (and until she turns 18 in December, no driver's licence), so has not yet been able to make it down to Melbourne to train with her new teammates.

She is looking forward to the challenge of combining two elite competitions across a busy sporting year, which Collingwood's Ash Brazill and GWS' Elle Bennetts have also done with the same sports. 

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"The coaches at Melbourne have been really good so far. I've just been chatting to them and my netball coaches, and hopefully they can come to an agreement to work things out," Caris said. 

"AFLW is a summer sport at the minute and netball predominantly goes through the winter months, so hopefully we can work something out so I can play both. 

"Footy has developed my aerobic fitness a lot and netball is more short sprints and agility, so I think they pair well.

"I haven't had any direct contact with Ash, but I love her and watching her Instagram stories and how she deals with it. When she started playing footy, her netball skyrocketed as well. She's definitely a person I find inspiring."