New Glenorchy TSLW vice-captain Brie Barwick can remember her first taste of football like it was yesterday, and not just because Magpie stalwarts Sandy Eaton, Nietta Lynch and Meg Jacobs were the coaches.
“My first footy memories would be as a Claremont junior rocking up to my first training and seeing Sandy, Niets and Meg as my coaches and thinking how the heck am I supposed to play this sport,” Barwick laughed.
“I didn’t kick any drop punts, I couldn’t learn how to handball properly, all I could really do was run, there weren’t any new mechanics in running.
“I thought if I can attack the ball and run hard the skills might come later.”
Of course, for someone taking up Aussie rules for the first time at the age of 16, that’s not an uncommon tale of woe.
What makes Barwick’s story remarkable is two years later she was atop the podium at UTAS Stadium, having claimed Glenorchy’s first TSLW premiership – alongside her three mentors from that fateful day at Cadburys – and having played an important role in the win.
Fast forward another year and the pint-sized midfielder had added Glenorchy Best & Fairest and TSLW Team of the Year honours, while finishing third in the competition best & fairest.
It’s a meteoric rise few can match, but considering Brie’s pedigree as part of the Barwick clan – her father Peter was the club’s 1991 Roy Cazaly Medallist – it’s hardly surprising.
Still, given she couldn’t kick a footy at 16, has she asked her father what on earth he was doing all those years?
“I actually haven't, but it’s a fair point to take up with him,” she laughed.
“I had no idea women’s football was even a thing in Tasmania. Dad never taught me anything because I don’t think he was aware of women’s football.
“I was playing netball and he hated netball, so when I started taking football seriously he jumped on board quick because he probably thought, ‘thank God there’s no more netball’.”
Yet while Brie is doing an outstanding job of building on the Barwick tradition in the black and white, she’s also doing a great job of blazing her own trail.
Leaving a legacy
That was never more evident than when the club’s inaugural Girls Academy was created in October 2019 and Brie put her hand up high to be one of the coaches, landing her squarely outside her comfort zone.
“I’m a very shy person, I can’t really gather all my words together as I’d like it,” Barwick said.
But over nine sessions a new leader emerged, Barwick cutting a confident and succinct figure as she directed the academy team to an ultra-impressive win over the Tigers in March.
“I've actually loved it,” she said.
“I think trying to push that barrier has been a really good start for developing my knowledge of football.
“When you're on the field you just play, you kind of know what you’ve got to do, but when you’ve got to think for other people and teach them, you stop and think.
“When you’re actually articulating what you know and articulating a message for the girls, I sat back and realised I have come a long way in 3-4 years.”
More than just imparting knowledge, Barwick has shown a care for her talented and committed young chargers that belies someone who is just 19 years old herself.
“I am on the bandwagon for them 100 per cent. You can tell the girls want to listen and learn and I really appreciate their time and their drive,” she said.
“I realise that if they want to learn off me then I have to be at my best for them. They're an inspiration for me.”
It’s that kind of approach that made the teenage sensation an easy choice for TSLW vice-captain for 2020, and she launched into that role by helping lead the club’s community program in difficult times.
With COVID-19 providing a baptism of fire for the new Northern Heartland Community Project, Barwick and her captain Gen Sullivan have been front and centre leading the way.
“It’s been good, Gen’s been good, I couldn’t think of a better partner to go in with in this stuff,” Barwick said.
“We both want to represent our team, get good buy-in and create a good culture where we are helping out the community by volunteering, something we can all join in as a team.
“On our camp we said let’s create a family instead of a team, and by each other having our backs it will hopefully pay off on the footy field too by creating a good culture.”