Sunday 17th July, marked the 50th AFL junior game for Jaime Morelli, a stalwart of the blue and white hoops.
Jaime’s footy origins are steeped in the history of the Cats as she started her AFL journey as a 5 year old at St Mick’s Auskick, which as we all know, evolved into the Lane Cove Cats FC.
Another who got their start in little athletics and netball, Jaime is remembered as “enjoying a bit of rough and tumble” – yep, we will come back to that – and it was thought that AFL would provide an outlet for a bit of fun and fitness. The family gathered the children and promptly signed with the wrong club. It wasn’t the end of the world, as Jaime earned the postnominal “premiership winner”, but something indefinable was missing, that certain joie de vivre that comes from playing with a team you can call your own. The recruiting firm of Byrne&Ladmore got wind of the dissatisfaction and Jaime signed the transfer papers and became a Cat.
To refer to Jaime’s playing style in those days as “fearless” is akin to referring to Mt Vesuvius as a large rock formation. One doesn’t so much remember Jaime, as feel the sensation of catching a flying blond pony tail out of the corner of one’s eye, followed by the involuntary flinch to brace for the inevitable impact, even with the clear knowledge that the witness was safe on the sideline and it was some poor twelve year old that was about to wear the tackle. It was exhilarating, terrifying and crowd pleasing in equal measure. Jaime may not be the reason that concussion protocols were brought in to junior AFL, but she’s not, not the reason.
Like Sam Kerr and Elyse Perry before her, a multisport talent eventually needs to make the tough choice and in 2020, Jamie forwent the crowded Willoughby netball courts for the wide open spaces of Blackman Park. As she worked hard to develop her skills to complement her speed and strength, Jaime increasingly became a talented all round player, comfortable in any of the key positions. In 2022, you’ll most likely find Jaime patrolling the back line, perhaps not where she would prefer to be in the thick of the action, but it’s hard to argue with the coaches’ choice when the oppositions have been kept to single digit scores this winter. A loose ball in the back line is when we see Jaime at her best, full speed direct at the ball, the body contest, the possession gained and ball distributed to her teammate. Still hard in defence, the control she now brings to her defence is straight out of the coaching manual. You will have to go to a State of Origin match to see a better tackle.
Jaime is not known for her accuracy in front of goal. Just going to leave that there.
Jaime is a well loved member of this Cats team. One that the team knows will give her all in every game and will take on all comers. She’s the one you want to have on your team rather than have to play against her. One that just looks at home in a Cats jumper.
Winner of the Fan’s choice trophy in 2021, selected in North’s Rep President’s 15 in 2020 and runner up in 2020 in both the Fan’s choice and Golden Boot (yes, really), there are plenty of awards and good footy to come.
Congratulations Jaime on 50 games.
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The Family Friendly Junior AFL Club.