Collings called up to Cats

Bridie Collings. (Supplied)

Oliver Lees

Bridie Collings was taken completely by surprise when she learnt she’d earned a spot on Geelong’s list for the 2024 VFLW season.

Having spent the last few months in Geelong training with the squad, the 18-year-old was named as an emergency in the Cats’ pre-season match against the Western Bulldogs on March 11.

She was sitting on the bench tying up her boot laces when she was approached by a member of staff who asked to speak with her in private.

“My heart was racing, I was like ‘oh my god this is crazy’,” she said. “It was quite unexpected.”

It may be a long way from Gisborne to Geelong, but Collings is used to the area, as she would often visit the Surf Coast on holidays with her family throughout her childhood.

But unlike a summer vacation, Collings has been hard at work attempting to prove herself at the profession level.

The former Calder Cannons vice-captain had just a short break after the Coates Talent League wrapped up before she was asked to attend Cats training.

“Basically went straight into training again after resting for about two or three weeks,” she said.

“I showed up from day one because I wanted to make a name for myself.”

The opportunity at the Cats marks a new chapter for Collings, who spent the last three seasons developing her skills at the Cannons.

In that time she relished the opportunity to impart knowledge onto some of her younger teammates and was a reliable asset in the midfield.

“I loved it, to be honest I think it developed me so much as a player but it’s also great to be on to bigger and better things,” she said.

“I loved being a role model for younger kids. I’ve always looked up to people older than me, so I like the idea of being someone who is setting an example.”

Since starting her footballing journey at the Gisborne Rookies, Collings has always been looked up to among her peers.

She excelled early, taking out the Riddell District Football League best and fairest in 2021 and became one of the first girls from Gisborne to play representative football.

Now entering a new part of her career, Collings said she expects to spend more time in the forward line this year.

As a small, highly skilled player who is also a fan of the Western Bulldogs in the AFL, Collings has always looked up to Caleb Daniel and tries to emulate aspects of his game.

“I’m honestly feeling so much better being in the forward line, I’ve seen it as an opportunity rather than something bad,” she said.

“I can do a quick spurt of tough running rather than being constantly tired in the midfield.”

Reflecting on her career so far, she said she was grateful to her parents and her early coaches Robert Bretheron and Darren Mitchell at Gisborne for their support.