Kate Hore’s path into football is by no means traditional, but now she’s in the AFLW there’s an eagerness to foster a stellar career.
Melbourne’s 2020 leading goal-kicker was originally selected as a pre-draft signing, which (for a brief period) made her the Demons’ only listed player after their inception year.
Hore started playing football as a five year old, when she would go to AusKick every weekend at the Beaumauris Sharks.
There she began developing her football skills, playing for seven years before moving to basketball and athletics.
“When I hit 12 I wasn’t able to play with the boys, and I don’t think mum was too keen on me playing with them either,” Hore told The Inner Sanctum.
“By that point I had gotten a bit more serious with my basketball, it was a natural progression to go into basketball because that’s where the pathways were.”
When the AFLW was launched in 2017, Hore knew where her sporting career lay.
“I remember watching the first game between Carlton and Collingwood, thinking this is something that I really want to do,” she said.
“There has been a different drive in footy to play at a really high standard that wasn’t there for basketball.
“The launch of the AFLW really kick-started my desire to get back out and play footy, and it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made.”
It was a relatively seamless transition back to football, with Hore playing for the St Kilda Sharks in the VFLW before Melbourne’s list manager Todd Patterson spotted the talent.
“I played a few games for the Sharks before Todd watched a couple and signed me,” she said.
“It was exciting to get signed before the draft, I can’t imagine the nerves of not knowing where you’re going to go.”
A lot of AFLW footballers played other sports as juniors, which meant many had to learn skills that Kate had developed as a child and refined as a teenager.
“It was like riding a bike, developing those kicking and handballing skills at such a young age,” Hore said.
“Even when I wasn’t playing games, I’d still go down to the park and have a kick with dad.”
“I think that playing footy in my early years has been a massive help to me. It’s such an advantage because kicking is a pretty hard skill to nail.”
After arriving at Melbourne, Hore’s only goal was to play a game.
“It was so new and I was just trying to soak up as much as I could,” Hore said.
“I just wanted to play one game, then try to hold my spot.”
Kate debuted in round one, 2018, against Greater Western Sydney, where she had 10 disposals and a goal.
From there, the forward would feature every match that season, kicking six goals and averaging 11.3 disposals a game.
Kate was recognised with a position in the AFLPA 22under22 team after her first season; an award she received in 2018 and 2019 as well.
2020 was both Melbourne’s and Hore’s best season to date.
Hore was the Demons’ leading goal kicker, whilst Melbourne went 4-2 and won the second semi final against GWS.
Furthermore, she was recognised with an All-Australian, the third place in Melbourne’s best and fairest, and the AFLW Goal of the Year.
She was also voted into Melbourne’s leadership group ahead of 2021.
Despite these accomplishments, the hard work is only beginning.
“I’m just trying to build on my form from last year,” Hore said.
“I’ve worked pretty hard in the offseason to keep building on my fitness and working on my skills.”
“I’ve been trying to add more strings to my bow, so I can keep contributing as much as I can to the team.
“The best part of the extended offseason was that we could work on different things that we wouldn’t get the chance to during the season because we’d be playing matches. It’s given us a chance to work on our running and strength.”
Despite Melbourne’s squad upheaval after 2020, where six players left the club, the noise internally is very positive with finals firmly on the agenda.
“As a team we’re looking to build on our momentum from last year,” Hore said.
“We made our first finals series and we absolutely want to be there again this year.
“I think there’s been a bit of external talk and everyone thinks we’re in a rebuild phase, but as a club we definitely don’t see it that way. We’ll be striving for finals, and absolutely making our claim for our first premiership as a club.”
With lofty goals set for 2021, eyes are on the Demons as they prepare for their opening round match against Gold Coast on Saturday.
“Our preseason has been really good, it’s fantastic to get back in a group training environment,” Hore said.
“Our preseason has looked a bit different in terms of our running and strength and conditioning training, but that’s been really refreshing.”