After spending six years in the United States playing college tennis, Fremantle Dockers midfielder/forward Megan Kauffman has transitioned into the AFLW. Coming from Wembley in the amateur league in Western Australia, she’s a player that will continue to grow in the elite environment at the Fremantle.
Growing up in Perth, Megan Kauffman played as many sports as she could but it was tennis that really stuck. Playing at Winthrop University in Carolina, she relished the opportunities that were presented to her before a homecoming saw her take a chance on Aussie Rules.
Megan Kauffman spoke exclusively to The Inner Sanctum about her cross-coding journey including her first year at the Dockers and how her love of football as a child came full circle when she was selected with Fremantle’s third pick in the 2022 Draft.
“I played soccer a lot when I was younger. I [also] did Little Athletics, swimming, netball, all of it,” Kauffman told The Inner Sanctum.
“I think when I went through high school, I did club netball and in high school was in all the inter-school athletics and swimming carnivals and all of that.
“Soccer and tennis were my big [sports] and then it came to a point where I had a choice between the two sports and I went with tennis and that kind of became my sport and it’s just the path that I’ve gone down.
“Playing tennis in the US was an amazing experience, it’s definitely something that has shaped who I am and kind of helped me with the opportunity that I have now.”
Having always loved Aussie Rules football, Kauffman watched AFL football since she was a young girl. Thinking she would never play due to the lack of pathways and opportunity, she moved onto tennis, only for the AFLW to lure her back.
“My dad’s been a big influence with him having a background in footy, so I grew up loving sport and loving footy. [My] dad was affiliated with Geelong for a while and so I was a Geelong fan so I’ve been watching and following along with Geelong’s AFL side for a long time.
“When I was young I think I had watched and thought ‘Oh I’d love to play’ but there never really was an opportunity or there was no real pathway at the time and so I just pursued other sports.
“I was over in the US when AFLW started and so I started to follow that a bit and I knew when I moved back to Australia that I definitely wanted to give it a go and that’s how I went and found Wembly, the [amateur] club and got stuck into it.”
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Having been in the US college tennis system, Kauffman had acquired experience in being able to perform in an elite sporting environment. Coming into the AFLW system at 25 years of age has helped her in terms of her off-field preparation and mindset.
“I think coming in and not being an 18-year-old, that’s helped me a lot in terms of my maturity and previous experience in elite sport. Being around elite sport a lot has helped me to be able to know myself,” Kauffman explained.
“I like to work hard but I enjoy training and I enjoy all that kind of stuff that goes into being an athlete and I think that’s something that has helped a lot as well. I think also having a really good environment as well around me and having people that have given me this opportunity and believe in me and having good teammates that have gotten behind me, has really helped things.”
When Kauffman was drafted by the Dockers she became the first female to be drafted from the amateurs in Western Australia. Although she has had experience in a similar high performance environment she says that when she got her fitness base under her at Fremantle, she found her confidence at the level.
“I think all of the things that are expected to come with a step up or an increase from going from an amateur level to professional level definitely did [come] like, the time commitment to training and all of that,” she said.
“The intensity and the skill level of the game and all of that increased and I expected that so that so was not too much of a shock.
“I think in terms of things I need to improve on, a lot of it is around building that sort of confidence and belief in my ability at that level. I’m really starting to find my feet and I think really learning the x’s and o’s and the structure and the way the game kind of plays out [will be beneficial to me] and a lot of that comes with continuing to play and being able to watch the game.
“That’s the biggest thing because that tactical side of it is a lot more intense and important at the professional level versus at the amateur level so I definitely think that is definitely something I look to grow and learn from the other players.”Embed from Getty Images
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