McDonald happy to soar with the Eagles

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
Albany’s Sophie McDonald has signed with the West Coast Eagles AFLW team ahead of the 2020 season.
Camera IconAlbany’s Sophie McDonald has signed with the West Coast Eagles AFLW team ahead of the 2020 season. Credit: Laurie Benson

Albany’s Sophie McDonald thought she was heading to Melbourne this week to try to impress potential suitors at the NAB AFLW draft combine.

Instead, the former State hockey player is soaking up the news she will spend 2020 as a West Coast Eagles player, signing an AFLW contract last week to complete her stunning rise in a relatively new sport.

McDonald only began playing football last year and after becoming a key part of Claremont’s league side in the WAFLW in 2019 she then represented WA at the national 18s championships.

A stellar performance at the carnival had her name shooting onto AFLW clubs’ watchlists and an invitation to the draft combine, which starts tomorrow, followed.

However the Eagles pounced last week, signing the 19-year-old as their final pre-draft acquisition which dramatically changed how this week unfolded.

Now not attending the draft combine, McDonald has returned to spend time with her family in Albany and was proudly wearing an Eagles polo shirt which is something she was still struggling to come to terms with.

“It’s absolutely mental,” McDonald said.

“I came to Perth because there were some opportunities but I’ve developed so much in a year.

“It has completely blown my mind how far I’ve come in such a short time and to be part of the inaugural Eagles team is a real honour.

“I’m so grateful to the staff and coaches to put faith in me and put me on the list.”

Sophie McDonald only began playing football last year.
Camera IconSophie McDonald only began playing football last year. Credit: Laurie Benson

The Eagles became aware of McDonald at their women’s alternative sport talent search in October last year and she joined their high-performance football academy. McDonald said the Eagles had showed interest in signing her since August but had to wait for AFLW to accept a number of cases similar to hers regarding eligibility.

Eagles head of female football Adam Selwood said they were excited about Sophie’s future prospects.

“Her ability to play both ends of the ground is really natural and her athletic ability is impressive,” he said.

“She’s very competitive.

“When she crosses that white line you can see that she wants to win.

“She might be new to the game, but we see her being a really strong pillar of our program for many years to come.”

McDonald said receiving a text from Selwood was one of the best moments of her life. “Adam texted me and said ‘your medical is all good, welcome to the Eagles’,” she said.

Newly signed AFLW player Sophie McDonald.
Camera IconNewly signed AFLW player Sophie McDonald. Credit: Laurie Benson

“I sat still for a bit and just tried to process what had happened. I called Mum as soon as I got the text and she was unbelievably happy.

“I want to get through the pre-season and because you are on a lost you are not guaranteed a game but if I could manage to make my debut that would be amazing, the main thing is just keep developing my game.”

McDonald joins fellow Great Southern footballers Parris Laurie (Denmark) and Belinda Smith (Pingrup) at the Eagles for their historic first season in the national competition.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails