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Osteopathy student tipped to make top 10 in inaugural 2016 NAB AFL Women's Draft

12 October 2016

At this time of the year, most third-year uni students are worrying about exams and assessments. But Nicola Stevens, an osteopathy student at Victoria University, is thinking about the AFL women’s draft.  

Nicola is expected to be drafted in the top 10, and even tipped to go as high as number 5 — but it could have been higher were it not for an ACL injury.

Nicola Stevens, osteopathy student AFL draft

When she was injured in 2014, Nicola missed out on a year of footy with the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne University, but she believes her injury was crucial to forming her backbone: It affirmed her love for footy and the people intrinsic to a footy club.

“I study osteopathy so I helped out at the club, strapped a few ankles and organised the trainers which helped me feel like I still belonged at the club,” she says.

“Coming back and being able to help out as a trainer was fantastic because I got to stay involved at that elite level in a non-playing capacity.

“It was great to be supported by all of the girls at the Doggies, and the staff as well.”

Her experience in playing AFL football and suffering injuries herself, has led her to believe that osteopathic treatment and commitment to rehabilitation is the most effective in obtaining optimal results in health and performance. Stevens took on a mentoring role, which only added to her on-field skill set when she returned to play for the Western Bulldogs. 

Brianna Davey — one half of Carlton’s marquee duo — can’t speak highly enough of Stevens.

“Coming back from an ACL, the way Nic has bounced back, she’s a great player now and any AFL club would want to snatch her up,” Davey says.

Davey and Stevens played alongside each other as Bulldogs players for the final time last month, in a match that was watched by more than one million people nationwide.

The pair were critical in the Bulldogs 39-point win over Melbourne, combining for ten rebound 50s off half back.

The game was a resounding success and the appetite for women’s footy was overwhelming. But Stevens had more reason than most to feel relieved. She’d just played in a winning side on the same ground her knee had failed her two years earlier.

Having studied osteopathy I have really embraced the complexity of the human body and how it functions. It was great to finish on such a positive note and come away with a win,” she says.

Nicola Stevens playing for Pascoe Vale’s Under 10s team.

As the inaugural 2016 NAB AFL women’s draft takes place on Wednesday 10 October, the 23-year-old defender knows she’s about to realise a childhood dream that first started when she picked up a Sherrin in Westmeadows.

“When people start throwing numbers at you, it starts to get a little bit daunting because you really just want to hear your name called out,” Nicola says.

“But once we’re in the side and as a group altogether I don’t think it matters if you’re number one or number 30.”


Support Nicola and watch the draft live from 1pm AEST on

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