Essendon AFLW player Georgia Gee has told The W podcast that she “wasn’t really enjoying” football at Carlton before seeking a trade to the Bombers.
- Georgia Gee says she wanted to grow as a player, and felt she “wasn’t getting that at Carlton”
- While her teammates were disappointed at her trade, Gee says things have “smoothed over”
- Gee heaped praise on Nat Wood, saying she finds it easier to connect with a woman as coach
The 22-year-old, who played five seasons with the Blues, told hosts Sam Lane and Sharni Norder that the last two years had been especially tough.
“I felt like I was kind of plateauing in my performance,” Gee said. “I really wanted to grow as a player, and I felt like I wasn’t getting that at Carlton.
“I thought maybe a fresh start, a new environment, new teammates and coaches would help me do that.”
Pressed on what it was about the Carlton environment that made life difficult, Gee said it was “more about me individually”.
“I think just mentally I was a little bit drained,” she said.
“I always find that when I step outside of my comfort zone, I can get the best out of myself and I felt that I was too comfortable.
“I thought the best thing for me was to step out of that environment and take on a new challenge.”
Old teammates ‘disappointed’ in want-away Bombers
Gee made the move to Tullamarine in the off-season with another Blue in best friend and 2020 AFLW best and fairest Maddy Prepaskis.
The two courted controversy in a press conference in the lead-up to the clash with their old club, claiming they were “disappointed” by the way their former teammates had taken the news.
“In terms of people we thought were really close to us, ringing some people and not getting the response we wanted back was probably a bit disappointing,” Prespakis said at the time.
Asked whether there had been any “fallout” from the comments, Gee said things had since been “smoothed over”.
“There were a few girls who (initially) said they were disappointed and didn’t really have much to say to me,” Gee explained.
“I know that now after speaking to those girls, everything’s fine, we’re all still mates. It was just that initial phone call, they were all quite disappointed.”
Gee also had some kind words to say about her former teammates.
“The playing environment (at Carlton) I found really good,” she said.
“I loved all the girls, that was definitely one of the hardest things for me leaving Carlton.”
‘I find it easier to connect with a female’
Gee also reserved praise from her former coaches, including Kade Simpson, who she said “really helped build my confidence”, and Daniel Harford, who she called “a great human”.
The opportunity to work with senior coach Natalie Wood, however, was one of the lures of changing clubs.
“That was really enticing,” Gee said.
“With Nat [Wood] being a female, I thought I could have a better relationship with her. I find it easier to connect with a female.”
An integral part of that connection, said Gee, was Wood’s understanding of what it was like to play women’s football.
“She knows what we’ve been through and that really helps in her coaching,” she said.
“She knows how hard it is to work to play football, for us girls especially being part-time athletes. It’s not easy and she’s seen that.
“She obviously hasn’t played AFLW because she didn’t have the opportunity, but she has this opportunity (to coach) now, so she’s going to give it her all and knows we’ll do the same.”
On a personal level, Gee said she also appreciated Wood’s approachable personality.
“She’s really humble, really genuine,” Gee said.
“She’s a country girl, she’s from Warrnambool so she’s really down to earth. I’ve just found the way she’s gone about coaching us girls awesome.”
Bombers not just making up AFLW numbers
Life at Tullamarine is so far living up to expectations for Gee, who said she will never forget the moment the Bombers played their first AFLW game against the Hawks.
“Walking out of that race for the first time and seeing the crowd [at Docklands], that was huge,” Gee said.
“It definitely felt like there was more than 12,000 there. I remember walking alongside Mads, we had each other in each other’s arms, and we were just saying to each other, ‘wow, this is incredible.'”
Essendon won that game by 26 points, with Prespakis influential (26 disposals and six clearances), while Gee had nine disposals and a team-high five tackles of her own.
Moving into round five, the Bombers have two wins from four games, and lost by just two points to the Tigers in the inaugural Dreamtime game on the weekend.
Compared to other expansion teams, Essendon are exceeding expectations. Hawthorn and Sydney are yet to win a game, while Port Adelaide had their first win of the season over the Swans on Saturday.
But Gee says the Bombers are not satisfied with making up the numbers — with a top-eight finish the goal.
“We’ll be very content with playing finals,” Gee said.
“Being an expansion club, we wanted to come into this (competition) not known as just another team, we wanted to hit the ground running.
“The list that we have is really exciting and dangerous.”