• Jayden J Bartlett

Amy Gore - a Journey Like No Other



Having surfed waves in Hawaii and Newcastle and played in the second-highest tier of women's football in South Australia - Amy Gore's story is like no other.


From her humble approach to sport, her feelings toward her talented twin, and her gracious attitude, there is much to learn from Amy's sporting journey.


Chapters:

Chapter 1 - the Switch

Chapter 2 - a Panther Returns

Chapter 3 - the Rocky Road to Robe

Chapter 4 - Living in the Moment

Chapter 1 - the Switch

It seems that it was fate that brought Amy Gore back into the world of football.


“I am a big believer that everything happens for a reason, and I feel like the way things worked out with footy this year was just that,” Amy said when asked why she strapped on the footy boots again.


Except for 2015, during which Amy played football for South Adelaide’s inaugural Under-16s Girls Squad, her sporting life was dominated primarily by surfing on the national and international stage.


Then, at the beginning of 2020, she was living in Newcastle ready for a big season on the World Surf League WQS Surfing Tour.


“There was talk that state and international borders would close and then, being a national and international competition, our tour might get cancelled,” she continued. “So, I decided to get in my car and head back home to Adelaide during the unknown times.”


Amy’s decision to return home was a smart once since a week after getting back home her tour was called off indefinitely – leaving the talented athlete without a sport.


Naturally as a professional athlete I treated this time as a big offseason and decided to put myself through the wringer by training as much as possible,” she said when questioned about what her next move was.


“I ended up training with a fitness coach, ‘Wazza’, who had an academy for elite athletes and specifically works with AFLW and AFL players.”


“I started training with this group every day and naturally, after running and weight sessions, when the crew would do footy skills and footy craft, I would just join in for fun and a bit of extra cross fitness.”


It was around this time, and through these training sessions, that this surfer began to rediscover her love of football.


That’s what initiated everything, I was having so much fun working with and training alongside the footballers.”


“Personally, coming from such an individual sport, that whole team environment around me was something I had never really experienced so it was super cool, and I loved being around that atmosphere.”


After training every day, those around her began to see her potential to cross-code and make her long-awaited return to the footy field.


“I guess that’s what all started this fire for footy that began to burn inside of me,” she said when asked what the final factor in her return was. “I’ve been super grateful to play and have had this opportunity to become a dual athlete.”


“I am also beyond thankful for my coaches, teammates, family, and friends who have joined me, and supported me, in this new journey. I can’t wait to continue to push myself and see how far I can take my footy this season.”


'The Dual Athlete' - this image was taken by MWM.

Chapter 2 - a Panther Returns

Having rediscovered her love for footy, the dual-athlete made her return to the blue and white – 6 years after her first experiences at the club. This time, however, she was in South Adelaide’s South Australian National Football League Women’s (SANFLW) side.


“I was excited to be back playing with SAFC representing at the highest level in our league team,” she said when asked how she felt about her return to the Panthers.


Carrying the same last name as South Adelaide’s inaugural Women’s Best and Fairest and Adelaide Crows draftee, Nikki Gore. Amy took her surname in stride and proudly donned the guernsey regardless of any external noise.


“In terms of expectations and pressure on me I think that the only real big expectations are the ones on which I put on myself honestly,” she said when asked if she felt any extra pressures being Nikki’s twin. “Nikki is a huge role model and inspiration to me not just in football but in who she is, her determination, heart, kindness and the attributes she carries which just make her so awesome,” she replied when asked about her twin connection to the sport. “I would love to follow in her footsteps with footy and she has been so supportive in helping me get there, training with me and encouraging me to be the best footballer that I can be.” “… The only real expectations and pressures come from myself and my determination to also achieve highly within my football.”


“Other than that, I feel very blessed that Nikki has paved the way for me on this journey in so many aspects.


“I’m also so grateful that coaches, family, and friends have treated me as my footballer and not compared me to my twin or given me any special treatment, which I appreciate a lot.


“We all have our unique gifts and talents and combined it’s what makes a team so special and great.”


Amy went on to make her mark on South Adelaide, with the international surfer making her league SANFLW debut in Round 4, 2021 – making her the seventy-ninth Panther to play the game.


“It was a mix of feelings, basically being my first ever game of football at a competitive level I didn’t quite know what to expect but I knew I had trained ready for it and so felt confident in that,” she said when asked about her debut SANFLW match. “I was excited, nervous and probably more so just ready to get out there with nothing to lose and nothing to prove.”


“The game went well, once I had a couple of touches the nerves went away and it was so much fun being out there with the girls.”


To make the moment more memorable for Amy, the Panthers got the job done with a nail-biting 7-point win over the Double Blues, 14 to 7.


I felt so welcomed by the team and getting the win made it extra special as the girls didn’t fail to follow first game protocols and soaked me in a shower of waters in the middle of our huddle back in the clubrooms as we belted out our Panther anthem.”


“It was a memory I’ll never forget.”


Despite the SANFLW season coming to an end, Amy’s love of football continued and, because she “didn’t want to stop playing”, she joined the Happy Valley Football Club.


'Preparing for 2022' - this image was taken by MWM.

Chapter 3 - the Rocky Road to Robe

From playing footy on grounds around Adelaide to surfing the waves in Hawaii – Amy’s sporting journey is unlike anything we have come across yet.


And, just as Nikki is a big name within the world of football, Amy is a big name within the world of surfing.


“Surfing has been a huge part of me and who I am for almost as long as I can remember,” she said when asked about her time spent surfing. “When I was 8 years old I knew I wanted to be a professional surfer and that was that.”


“Surfing has helped shape me into the person I am today and has been a vehicle in helping me overcome fears and challenges, and also in achieving, living life to the fullest and being able to inspire and encourage others to follow their dreams.” “Surfing has helped develop my determination to see no boundaries or limitations and never give up on anything. I’m so thankful for surfing, the happiness it has brought, the friendships and connections, the highs, lows and learnings and every little bit along the way in my journey.

“The ocean is one of my greatest happy places. As much as I love surfing just for the freedom and joy it brings, I’ve always loved competing.”


Having gained the opportunity to surf nationally and internationally, where she has made finals in plenty of oceans and places across the world – it is her most recent win at the Robe Easter Classic that is a story in itself.


So, I went to Robe with my Mum, sis and her partner Mac. This was our first time going to Robe for a surfing competition and since I only decided to enter at the last minute and being the Easter weekend, all accommodation was taken.”


“Luckily though we have family in Mount Gambier and so we were blessed we could stay with them overnight and then drive back to Robe early on competition day. “On the morning of the comp we had worked out about the time I had to be at the event but that was about it. After driving for 2 hours we got into the town of Robe, we had no idea how to get to the beach or even the beach the comp was being held at and so we stopped at the local surf store to ask the locals.


“They told us it was at a beach called ‘Stoneys’. They said something like ‘follow the street down to the end of the road, turn right and then keep going until you get to the car park, oh and you do have a 4-wheeled drive right’.


“Okay, first of all, we didn’t have any idea where we were going from those directions and secondly we did not have a 4-wheeled drive.” “Anyway, we took off and ended up on this narrow 4-wheeled drive track which we were 95 per cent sure our car wasn’t meant to be able to handle and could not see any ocean in sight.


“Next minute I get a phone call from one of my surf team managers at Hurley saying, ‘Hey Amy, how’s it going, just wondering where you are- you’re surfing in 5 minutes.'


“Wait what. Okay, freak out mode just set in. My boards are on the roof with no fins, I’ve never seen this beach or surfed there, I can’t even find it, I have no idea where we are, I’m still fully dressed and don’t have my bathers or wetsuit on, and I’m meant to be competing in 5 minutes … oh and we drove from Adelaide just for this event.


“Anyway, we continued driving down this road hoping that we were not far away, mum was stressing and freaking out for one- the car wouldn’t get us there and two - that I would miss the comp. “Meanwhile thankfully the event staff had agreed to go on hold for a minute for me while I tried to make it to the comp. Finally... we see a car park; this must be it we thought.


“At this stage, I’m getting changed into my swimmers in the car while we are driving, Nikki’s partner is getting the prep talk for how he’s about to become my board caddy and I’m getting ready to sprint to the beach.


“As soon as we park it’s a green light to race ... the boards get thrown off the roof - I’m putting fins in ...Nikki is trying to tighten them while I throw a wettie over the top of my swimmers.


“Then I see Will running over to collect me. He had filmed the waves, worked out a game plan for me and was giving me the debrief as we began to run as fast as we could to the event.


“We were running up over sandy hills trying not to run in front of any cars or things ... it was crazy.


“Nikki’s partner had also been roped into the run- carrying my backup board, carrying out his ‘board caddy’ role well. As we approached the comp - the event announcer, called out - ‘and here comes Amy ... no pressure Amy, we’re only waiting for you.' “The crowd cheered as I ran down the rocks to the water and I even had a few people call out, ‘Go, Amy.' It was so hectic that even in all the craziness I felt so much support and a good positive atmosphere around me.


“I ended up winning the event and came away with a story that will last a lifetime.


Looking back on that story now I can’t believe how it all turned out and I’m so thankful for all the people that made it so awesome and a great time. “


'Surfing, Footy and Smiles' - this image was taken by MWM.

Chapter 4 - Living in the Moment

As a successful surfer and a promising footballer, Amy has managed to carve out an extremely bright sporting path – yet, of course, she has not done it all alone.


“So, to every friend, family member, teammate, competitor, coach, wider network of support who has worked with me lately, my sponsors and anyone else who has had an impact on me - thank you.


“I want to be able to name every single person who has helped me, encouraged and inspired me along the way but it would go on and on so I hope they know who they are, how much they’re appreciated, counted and valued so highly to me. “I would also like to say a special thank you to Dr Mike Selby who is my player sponsor at SAFC and has been an amazing supporter to me in achieving my dreams and goals.”


As for what the future holds for Amy and her sporting life, she’s happy to just go with the flow.


“I’m loving that for the time being, I can be a dual athlete,” she said when asked if she will continue to juggle both sports. “Right now, with footy season starting, that’s taking priority but in the offseason, if the doors open then I’d love to maybe travel to a few surfing events next year.”


“Right now, I’m just taking it all one day at a time and not putting too many plans in place.”


One thing I’ve learnt from the past couple of years, and especially the impact of covid, Is that things can change really quickly and so it’s taught me instead of setting strict goals and time frames for achieving each of them, to instead focus on being the best person and athlete I can be in the present moment.


“It’s quite a nice feeling to live in the present and take some of the pressure off.”


Speaking of the present, Amy is starring down her second season of SANFLW footy and, after seeing her time trial, we are as excited as she is.


“I’ve had a huge offseason in working as hard as I can to hopefully have a good season and be the best teammate that I can whether that’s on or off the field,” she said when asked how she feels about the 2022 season. “Right now, I just feel so blessed to be with such a supportive team of amazing and talented girls and coaches/staff who are continually encouraging me, pushing me and supporting me.”


Personally speaking I would love to just play a great season of footy and perform well, ultimately I’d love to eventually get drafted but I’m taking a new approach of not putting pressure on myself and just enjoying footy with a bunch of legends here at SAFC.” “In being a Christian I have faith that God has a plan and purpose for me and so if it happens then awesome but if not it’s still awesome because I know I am valued no more or less based on what I do or in what I achieve.


“We are all loved, valued and worthy no matter what or who we are. It’s something that I hold on to.”


At the end of the day, there are many ways to describe Amy. Whether it’s dedicated, passionate, athletic, multi-talented, appreciative or promising, she has done something at some point in her life that reflects it.


But, instead of trying to describe what the future has in store for her, we are going to instead take a leaflet from her book, and just live in the present – and for us, we are currently just excited to see what comes next for Amy Gore because, as history tells us, its sure to be great.



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