While many year 12s expect a shiny new car for their 18th, Eastern Ranges captain Connor Downie is accustomed to life on public transport and his push-bike.
Downie’s parents have never owned a car, meaning the 18-year-old has always had extra considerations and planning when wanting do things.
But instead of complaining, he’s built a strong work ethic and self-reliance- something which he points out will be beneficial if he’s drafted interstate.
Take his vigorous, rain, hail or shine training program, for example.
“Right now I’m doing a football session on Tuesday and Thursday and on Tuesday I’m doing a running session [which are about 6 kms each] after I do my skills,” Downie said.
“Then I do gym on Tuesday and Thursday and then one more running session on Saturday and a couple of skills sessions in between that.”
That, remembering he cycles the four kilometre round trip, in Melbourne’s motivation-sapping stage-four restrictions epitomises professionalism.
It’s something he says was born after the under-16 national championships.
“I remember after Under 16s [Vic] Metro I thought I needed to improve my groundball and touch,” he said.
“So I made an effort in that pre-season to really work on the fundamentals and I improved that a lot which is what I think allowed me to flourish in my bottom age year so since then I’ve been really big on the basics.”
Strong early-season form saw Downie, a Hawthorn Next Generation Academy prospect by virtue of his mother’s Chinese heritage, selected to play a game in the under-18 national-championships.
“The game I played against Vic-country was really fast paced,” he recalls.
“I wasn’t taken aback, but it just took a bit of getting used to.
“That was something I wanted to be more aware of, rather than reacting to the game pace, it was setting it yourself so being more proactive.”
He then went back and continued to contribute to Eastern’s run to the grand final, kicking a goal after the siren to win their round 17 match, and gathering 37 disposals across their first two finals.
His assessment of his Grand Final is harsh, as a proud Eastern boy, but in reality a star-studded Oakleigh outshone the whole Ranges outfit on the day.
Downie’s played the majority of his footy as a line-breaking half-back and wingman with a booming left boot to launch attacking chains – something he’s currently working on as part of his program – but missed out on the opportunity to show his ability inside the contest this season.
“I was working on a few more contested aspects of my game, but I got a bit too caught up in that and lost track of what I’m actually good at in a way,” Downie admits.
“So I was focusing too much on my weaknesses rather than remembering my strengths and focusing on them; I definitely think my best position at the moment is probably half back but in saying that I’m confident I can play on the inside.”
Downie’s efforts have seen draft experts rank him as the 25th best prospect in the pool in the September phantom form guide, but it hasn’t feed his ego.
Down-to-earth, content, relatable and respectful. You wouldn’t pick him for someone who has recruiters salivating.