Isabel Huntington - is one of my daughter’s best friends and one of my absolute favourites! She’s also living my dream of being a superstar Aussie Rules footballer. She was the only girl in the boys team at South Melbourne for 6 years, starting at Under 9’s and cleaned up the Best & Fairest in the League several times throughout.
So, it’s little wonder that she was the AFLW’s #1 Draft Pick in 2017. She’s battled several serious injuries since her junior years, the most recent seeing her miss most of her first AFLW season, after a sensational debut game and a half. Not to let that stop her, she’s without doubt the most determined, motivated and single minded person I know and her comebacks and resilience have been awe inspiring. She played the latter half of AFLW Season 2019 with the Western Bulldogs and showed what she’s made of. It’s now VFLW Season so she’s continuing to do what she adores and her future in footy is very exciting.
She’s also really really smart and is going to do amazing things in her life. We love her and are thrilled that she’s agreed to do A Day in the Life of for us. Introducing Izzy Huntington.
AFLW & VFLW
The structure of the seasons for my football, both AFLW and VFLW, mean there’s always something going on all year round! This calls for the need to be able to balance my sport with other commitments, a challenging yet worthwhile task.
From November to the end of March, AFLW preseason and season are in full swing, meaning lengthy training sessions and late nights spent at the football club. At this time, finding time for socialising and other aspects of my life can be difficult, particularly given how mentally and physically tiring training can be.
However finding a balance is essential to staying healthy and getting the best out of myself as a footballer too.
As the AFLW season concludes and I shift into VFLW, I have the added challenge of balancing my studies. The uni semester for me starts part way through the AFLW season and ramps up during VFLW season, meaning long days studying or at uni are accompanied by football trainings in the afternoons and evenings.
Whilst it can be overwhelming at times, I find that the need to balance all aspects of my life at this time actually increases my productivity, as long as I find ways to reduce the stress of uni deadlines and the pressure of football.
The best part about being part of an AFLW club is that you get to do everything with 29 other teammates! This thankfully means no boring solo sessions out on the track, with the added benefit of having the rest of the team spur you on during training.
AFLW pre-season is the time of year where we have the highest volume of training. It’s tiring and many nights we don’t finish in the gym until 9:30pm, but it’s all very enjoyable in the environment I’m in at the Western Bulldogs. Typically, a pre-season training week consists of 3 main sessions out on the track with a mix of football skills and simulations, running and conditioning, as well as the ever important injury prevention exercises we do.
After these sessions, we’ll all head into the gym to finish off with weights before jumping in the ice baths. Thankfully, preseason being in summer means the ice baths are far more tolerable than they sound, however they definitely still result in many numb toes and fingers on the cooler nights! These 3 main sessions are generally complemented by a few more gym and cross training sessions in the week.
Given the loading on our bodies during this time, recovery is essential, and everything from sleep to nutrition is important in ensuring our bodies are good to go for the next week.
Particularly on training and game days, getting the right food into your body is vital.
My typical breakfast is either a fruit smoothie, more common on summer days, or a bowl of The Muesli with yoghurt and fruit on top. Both are delicious options and really set you up well for the day.
For the rest of the day, tailoring what I eat to my needs and schedule for that day is important. We’re fortunate enough to have a great dietician for our women’s team at the Western Bulldogs, and the education on diet for athletes has been wonderful. Different needs for different days and training loads are important, as is finding a balance and having your cheeky treats all in moderation.
Whilst it’s hard to consider the joys of playing AFLW work, balancing my football with my uni commitments is a difficult yet rewarding task.
I’m currently doing a full time load at uni, where I’m studying a bachelor of Science at Melbourne Uni, with the aim of getting as many subjects completed before the AFLW season (hopefully!) becomes longer and closer to full time across the next few years. Melbourne Uni accommodates athletes really well in the form of an Elite Athlete Program, where extra flexibility is extended to those balancing uni with their elite sport. For me, this means I can tailor my uni to my training times much better, and can study from home or from the football club when I need to.
The Western Bulldogs have also been fantastic in helping all players to balance their busy lifestyles, whether it be full time work or study, and are very flexible and understanding of every player’s external commitments.
Being able to play football for an AFL club and at the highest level is extremely enjoyable, however finding a good balance between football, uni and other aspects of my life is vital.
Fitting in time for friends, family and other interests of mine really helps me switch off and release stress.
Hanging out with my mates, traveling, or heading to the coast with my family for a surf are all examples of activities that really allow me to relax and enjoy life.
I find that giving up a bit of study time to fit these activities in benefits me mentally and allows me to stay more productive. I’ve learnt that devoting all of my time to simply one thing, such as study or football, only results in procrastination and stress, showing just how important balance is to a healthy lifestyle.