• Jayden J Bartlett

Maddy Gray - a Record-Breaking Bushranger

For recruiters, Maddy Gray may seem like the full package; having gained experience in holding leadership roles and possessing an outstanding vertical, decent pace and great agility.

At the 2021 NAB League Girls preseason testing, Maddy finished first in the vertical jump test as well as the running vertical jump test, scoring 57cm and 81cm respectively.

Impressively, her running vertical result broke the record, previously held by Madison Levi who broke it herself in 2020.

Besides her vertical, Maddy also displayed her great agility and pace, finishing sixth in the 20m sprint and second in the agility test.

However, despite these results, the young and humble Bushranger is quick to brush off any suggestions that she is a promising prospect.

“Not really to be fair,” Maddy said when asked if she expected to have such an impact at this year’s testing. “I have always had a strength with my vert, but other than that I didn’t.”

2021, the same year that marked her impressive test results, also marks her sixth year of playing football.

Beginning at the AusKick level at Endeavour Hills, Maddy then progressed through to the under-9 boys’ team at Knox Gardens. She then went on to claim a premiership with the under-12 girls’ team at Knox Gardens.

Moving to the country, the exciting Victorian prospect then joined the Benalla Saints under-18s in 2018, before then moving to the Shepparton Swans under-18s in 2020, where she currently remains.

“It’s pretty good,” she said when asked about her time with the Swans. “We are a new club, so I love helping out and trying to better the new girls coming through, I enjoy playing there.”

'Maddy's Vertical In Action' - image kindly supplied by Maddy.

As well as her years spent playing football, Maddy has made an impact in a couple of other sports throughout the years.

These other sports include basketball, where she progressed through to the Victorian Junior Basketball League level, and volleyball, where she played for the Rowville Sports Academy and came third in Australia.

“I only went there for a year, so it was a pretty short time,” she said about her time at Rowville. “It was pretty good; we did our dedicated sport every day for multiple periods a day.”

Her exceptional vertical would explain why she managed to make a mark in basketball and volleyball – however, football is her favourite sport nowadays.

“… Meeting new people and creating friendship bonds within the football community that I’ll have forever,” she replied when asked what her favourite footy moments have been so far. “As well as playing of course.”

Yet, not only does Maddy have great test results that suggest she’s good at footy, but she also has a list of achievements that help support it.

Proving that she can perform outside of tests, Maddy has played Interleague football for Shepparton and Districts, as well as V-Line football for the Shepparton and Wodonga League side.

In 2019, she captained her V-Line team – which is always a positive sign for a young prospect.

And then in 2021, she claimed her club’s Best and Fairest and finished third in her League’s Best and Fairest.

'The Mighty Murray' - image kindly supplied by Maddy (pictured 2nd from left).

For the past 4 years, Maddy has been a part of the Murray Bushrangers list and, although 2020 was disruptive at best, the 2021 season has been her best so far.

Averaging 8 touches and 4 tackles, this year was her breakout year.

“The Bushrangers are an inclusive club who wants to help everyone improve not just as footballers but also as individuals as well,” she said when asked to describe her time with the Bushrangers.

“I would describe my experience before Covid as fun, intense but professional.”

“During Covid years I would say our program adapted well to the changes and still made it intense as it could be dealing with Covid restraints.

“I would say Bushrangers with the barriers we face being a regional club they have worked best to their ability to make it the best program it can be.” However, Maddy isn’t the only Gray to don the colours of the Bushrangers, with her twin sister Tayissa also being a part of the squad.

“It’s pretty good I feel pretty privileged to be able to play with my sister or even a sibling, although we do butt heads a lot,” she said when asked what it’s like to play alongside her twin.

Her family connection to footy doesn’t stop there either as, as well as all of her coaches, she wants to give a special thanks to “my nan, who pays for everything and drives me everywhere”.

However, despite the record and the breakout NAB League season, that’s not all for 2021, as Maddy was selected to represent the Victoria Country Under-17s side.

“Felt pretty good to represent the Country and, although I didn’t play my best, it felt pretty good to represent,” she said when asked how it felt to don the big v.

So, what is the next chapter for this record-breaking Bushranger?

“Next season I’m just keen to develop as a player and hopefully enhance my skill set and be able to become the best player I can and hopefully make AFLW if I’m lucky enough,” she said when asked what her goals for next year and beyond are.

Her great pace, agility, and vertical make Maddy a dangerous player to go up against, whether the ball is on the ground or in the air.

Being both a ground-level and aerial threat make Maddy Gray an extremely promising prospect – and we seriously doubt that we are the only ones who have taken notice.

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Article #208

Minutes with Moose would like to thank all of our ambassadors.

None of these images is owned by MWM - they have been supplied by the player and were personally taken.

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