Former Hockeyroo signs with AFLW club
IT WAS December 21, 2016, and Georgie Parker had just made one of the biggest decisions of her life.
After more than 100 games for Australia - which included Commonwealth Games gold and Olympics heartbreak - Parker publicly called time on her career as a Hockeyroo.
From there, her short-term plan was an easy one: club hockey in Belgium, followed by a well-deserved trip around Europe.
But fast-forward six months and Parker committed to her next big decision: signing on with Collingwood as a rookie for the 2018 AFLW season.
It was a move that shocked the 28-year-old as much as anyone.
"I had no idea it was even in the works,” Parker said.
"I got a random message from one of the operations managers at Collingwood and he just suggested the idea.
"It's something that I'd never even thought of, being over here after the Olympics. There was a lot of disappointment after Rio for me and I retired from international hockey after that.
"So for me it was a really random occurrence of events.”
A lifelong Adelaide supporter, Parker also fielded an offer from the Crows, before settling on Collingwood as her final destination.
Despite still having family in Adelaide, she said the combination of work opportunities in Melbourne, along with her discussions with the club, convinced her that signing with the Magpies was the right call.
"I had Collingwood approach me and then I had the Crows approach me as well, so I had two clubs after me playing a sport that I'd never played before,” Parker said.
"Once it was mentioned to me I thought, 'Well, why not? I'm still young, I'm only 28 and I've got a lot of legs left in me.'
"So I just thought I'd take on the challenge and give it a go.”
Despite playing club hockey in Belgium throughout the entire inaugural AFLW season, Parker said she had been unable to escape the hype around the competition.
"I was still overseas but it was crazy,” she said.
"I was living in Belgium and I remember the first game I was actually on a skiing trip in Switzerland and I couldn't get away from it.
"So I'm thousands and thousands of kilometres away and I still couldn't get away from it. Everywhere I looked on social media was just football everywhere, with so many girls playing.
"Then you could see it filter down to the younger generations with the amount of young girls that are starting to play.”
While Parker is still very much a raw talent, Collingwood views the AFLW convert as a potential midfield and forward line option, such is her athleticism.
The club's AFLW coach, Wayne Siekman, said Parker's explosive speed and guile with the ball were among the traits that brought her to Collingwood's attention.
"Her attributes as an explosive player for the Australian hockey team adds great value to our team given that one of the things that we lacked in season one was our speed and explosiveness,” Siekman explains.
"Field hockey is a sport that is very similar to football in terms of reading the play and positioning, so she's coming to us with a level of game awareness already.”