Isabel Choate - the Bittersweet Story
"To be honest, the only advice I would give them is to make sure you do not panic, you listen to the person giving you the rehab because they know what they are doing and just do it. The more you put it off, the more it will hurt you in the future."
One of the more bittersweet feelings in football is the first game back after suffering an injury. Usually, the longer the wait, the sweeter the feeling is when you finally hit the field—but at the same, the longer it is the more bitter it is, as each week in rehab means one less week of football.
But it is hard to deny that, for most players that come back from injury, the first game back is a special moment. Although, when that first game back happens to be in the first few rounds of the 2020 NAB League Girls season—it makes it an even more bittersweet occasion.
This such occasion is one that Isabel Choate experienced at the beginning of 2020, during what was her first season with the Western Jets.
“My first year with Jets did not go as planned as I injured myself in the first practice match early that year.”
What makes this even more sour is that this was her second injury in as many years because, during her first year of football with Wydham Vale, she also had to spend time going through rehab. Yet despite being sidelined during her first season of football—it did not dampen her feelings towards football or Wydham Vale for that matter.
“My time at Wyndham Vale was definitely interesting. We were pretty much always short players sometimes only playing with like fourteen players, so it was always hard to perform the way I wanted too.”
“We were also a pretty new group as well lord of new players coming onto the team myself included so we did not really know how each other played.
“I got injured halfway through that season as well so missed a few games then which was quite upsetting but was happy to be able to play the last few games and then even go on to play a few games with the seniors.
“Wyndham Vale definitely helped me with so much, I had a good coach who helped me improve and I made amazing friends who just made me love the sport even more. I loved my time at Wyndham Vale no matter what the results were at the end of the day.”
One bright thing to come out of her first season was that despite suffering an injury, she still managed to impress enough to gain a spot on the Western Jets list. But as mentioned earlier, her terrible run with injuries followed her into the new year.
“It was upsetting, I was in a lot of pain and not being able to play with such an amazing group of girls hurt my heart a bit, but I just worked on getting better and then when I finally did COVID hit, but to be honest I am just glad I was able to play a game.”
Having to go through rehab is a tough enough time as it is without being in just your second season of football.
“I never did handle rehab as well as I should of but that is because with the first injury I did not really get much rehab as I had no idea on what to do and the doctor did not really give us much information. He always made my injury seem like it was not a big deal, and it would heal by itself eventually.”
“When I saw an osteo she gave me a few exercises, but I did not really keep doing them because I never booked another appointment. I just got all clear from the doctor and started playing again.
“When I then re-injured myself at Jets, everything was a lot more professional. There was a whole rehab team by my side helping me and making sure I was doing those exercises. Seeing them taking it so seriously made me take it more seriously as I had a good support system around me.
“The second injury was a lot worse and took me a little longer but in the end they were always there, and I was able to get better.”
And she did get better, as she was able to make her long awaited NAB League Girls debut just before the 2020 season was suspended.
“Before the game I was so nervous but really excited, it felt so good to get out there and play again but towards the end of the game I felt like I could have done a lot better. I know I put everything I had but still felt I had a lot more in me.”
Having to work so hard to get back in-time to make the debut, it is understandable that she had put extra pressure on herself—but just the fact that she was able to return and make her debut so early on into the season is an impressive enough feat.
And as for how she managed to develop so fast and overcome two injuries, well we believe its due to a mix of her own passion and strength, some great support, and an impressive role model.
“My mum and dad have always been so supportive, and I am so thankful for everything they have given me.”
“Also like to thank Jess Hosking she has been my idol for nearly two years now and she has helped me with so many things.”
Considering the amount of work that she had to put in to be able to make her debut, and the way she holds her teams in such a high regard—makes it easy to pass over the fact that at the time, it was just her second year of playing football.
“… I feel like I have barley played football and there is still so much for me to learn. I am young and I have many goals I cannot wait to reach.”
“I know one day I will get there but starting football when I was 16 I have needed to speed things up a little and not actually focus on techniques and skills which I am trying to focus on this year.”
While she is still young and considerably new to football, she is by no means a stranger to sport having played her “fair share of sports over the years”.
“… I have played tennis, basketball, hockey, soccer, but none of them ever agreed with me and I just got bored of it.”
“When I started playing footy I knew it was the thing for me to do so I just started putting all of my time to that one sport and I am so happy with my decision.”
But even the decision to play football came with its own internal struggle. One that most players who have a family connection have no doubt felt at one stage during their own football journey.
“I have always grown up with footy but never wanted to pursue it as I felt I would just be left in my family’s shadows.”
“Majority of my family has played footy throughout the years and I guess that is why I always just tried other sports. I wanted to be different from them, but in the end I got drawn to footy as well and I become an umpire.
“I felt that way I was close to footy but still having my own pathway no one else in my family has taken. It got to a point a year and a half after that, where I really just wanted to get on the field and try.
“It was hard for me to pick a club as majority of my family played at Altona for Vikings, so I decided to go to the complete opposite side and play for Wyndham Vale where I could make my own mark and not be compared to anyone in my family.
“I think I made the right decision, Wyndham Vale definitely helped me get notice for sure and I would not change anything.”
What is the next chapter in this bittersweet story?
“My goals going forward is the one thing I have had in the back of my head for ages. To make it too AFLW and play for Carlton.”
“I also just really wanna improve on my skills and fitness I feel like those two things are important for this year as well.”
Without question, her strength of character and her dedication is top level—and the fact that this is just her third year off football, and she is already showing these signs, means that she sky is the limit for young Isabel Choate.
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None of these photographs are owned by MWM; all images have been supplied by the player and have been personally shot.