The YJFL’s terrific talent pool of players was no more evident than in this year’s AFLW Draft as Jessica Fitzgerald was selected at pick number two to the Western Bulldogs.
Playing football from a young age after being inspired by her father, Jess Fitzgerald only gave the sport a real chance in her teens. After a successful young career in basketball Jess set her sights to football once she joined St Mary’s Greensborough Junior Football Club in the YJFL after two seasons in the NFNL at the under 9 level, with the boys.
Once coming over to the YJFL and joining the Burra’s, Jess started showing her natural ability. Playing from 2015 to 2018 at St Mary’s the journey along the way was full of success that showed her future potential.
Jess during her Saint Mary’s days, photo courtesy of her Instagram
In 2016 Jess travelled as part of the Victorian team to Queensland and competed in five games at the SSA Combined AFL Championship. However, Jess’ 2017 season was a standout in the YJFL and at St Mary’s where she won the league Best and Fairest award in the Under 15 Girls (1) division. Along the way, Jess played many more games in the big V for Vic Metro where she would further show her ability with the ball and her hard-tackling style.
A total of 55 games in the YJFL, Jess then joined the development pathway club, Northern Knights.
As a part of the Knights in 2018, 19 and 20 Jess played a total of 22 games, but none more important than the 2019 Grand Final where she was awarded the best on ground honour. She was the leading disposal getter that day, but the stats didn’t end there; 16 possessions as well as four marks, five tackles, two clearances, two inside 50s, three rebound 50s and a behind.
In the 2020 season, Jess was given the co-captain position with Ellie McKenzie. With only three games played it was hard to scope the breadth of any of the NAB League players ability, but Jess didn’t let that stop her. In a round 3 match up against the highly touted Dandenong Stingrays, Jess and partner in crime Ellie clawed their way back from a half time deficit to get the win while collecting 28 disposals a piece including two important goals for Jess.
Jess at a NAB League Girls Media Opportunity at the Botanical Gardens (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images via AFL Photos)
The future for Jess Fitzgerald is extremely promising, her exceptional performances on the big stage show how the AFLW won’t give her any grief.
The YJFL wishes Jess all the best for her 2020 studies and her future in elite football.
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