Life Changing Moment that took me to a Grand Final


American Mason Cox had by no means heard of AFL 5 years earlier than stepping out on the MCG for the largest sport of the yr. He displays on changing into a prelim last sensation and the craziness of Grand Ultimate week.



After we play a sport on the MCG, we normally drive ourselves in, park throughout the road and stroll over to the bottom. However Grand Ultimate day 2018 was completely different.


The car parking zone was getting used and we needed to take an Uber as a substitute. When mine turned up it was the smallest automotive you could possibly presumably have as an Uber – like somewhat good automotive.


I folded my 2.11 metre body into the again like I used to be the ‘very tall man in automotive’ meme from the Simpsons, hunched proper over with my bag caught on my lap.


Right here I’m, going to the rattling Grand Ultimate, the largest sport in my life, in some broke ass Uber, considering ‘you’ve received to be f***ing kidding me. You could be going to one of many largest days of your life however you’re nonetheless an extraordinary individual’.


It was a extremely good method to deliver me all the way down to dimension.



‘Huge Life Altering Moments’

4 years earlier than that Uber experience I had no concept in any respect what the AFL was.


I had been provided a job at ExxonMobil, who have been primary on the Fortune 500, working as a mechanical engineer, top-of-the-line jobs you may get popping out of faculty.


Once I received scouted as a possible AFL participant, I obtained lots recommendation from my household and all of us had loads of doubts.


My brother and I travelled over to Australia to do a tour to the AFL and earlier than we left we feared it could be like an Japanese European Basketball League, one thing that was owned by businessmen and will fold at any time on their whim.


We didn’t actually consider it as something too critical or as one thing that may be financially viable.  It was a case of there’s a sport on the market I haven’t heard of, likelihood is it’s not an enormous cash maker.


You don’t need to threat a terrific job, journey half a world away after which six months into it they let you know ‘oh, sorry, we are able to’t pay you anymore. Good luck!’


There are huge, life altering moments for each person who shift the trajectory of the place your life goes. Mine got here on the seashore at St Kilda, sitting with my brother Nolan.


He stated ‘look man, you may go do that ExxonMobil job or come right here and work out for a residing. A level doesn’t expire. You’ll be able to all the time return and work a desk job, however this can be a as soon as in a lifetime factor and it has an expiration date.


‘That is your alternative, your likelihood to have a bit extra management in your profession, in your path, and if every thing goes properly, have a tremendous story to inform folks and hopefully present a little bit of hope and happiness to some folks alongside the best way.’


Hopefully I’ve executed that for some folks. There can be others who most likely don’t like me a lot as a result of they assume I’m an conceited prick from America! However hopefully on the finish of it, I’ll look again at it and be happy with the journey I’ve taken and the way far I’ve come for the reason that day I landed in Australia and came upon what the heck this sport was.




‘I Stared Into The MCG In Disbelief’ 

In 2018 I had the backing of Nathan Buckley all year long. Whether or not I had a median sport or sport he had the religion in me that I might present what the staff wanted. That was huge for me.


We have been thirteenth the yr earlier than and completed third, beginning within the finals in opposition to GWS. Main as much as that sport I received a ‘corkie’ performing some ruck work and will barely even jog within the sport. We received via. I didn’t play amazingly properly, however for a man basically on one leg it went alright.


Within the week of the prelim, we received a sign of what the skin world considered our possibilities in opposition to minor premiers Richmond when a merchandise man rocked as much as get us to signal some Grand Ultimate memorabilia in case we received via.


He confirmed us a PowerPoint that used Richmond within the last for instance. You would inform he didn’t need to make investments a lot time in us out of the 4 groups left, and that made an influence on us.


It’s properly documented how the prelim sport went – having the sport of my life as the gang chanted “USA”. It was a loopy life expertise.


At any time when I image a picture of that day, one second stands proud.


After most video games on the MCG, when every thing’s packed up and it’s time to go away, I prefer to stroll up the race and stare down into the empty area.


That day I bear in mind staring into the MCG in disbelief. I hadn’t even identified what the game was 4 years in the past and right here I used to be going right into a Grand Ultimate in entrance of 100,000 folks. I used to be considering ‘holy shit you by no means thought you’d be right here’.


The vacancy hits you and also you get the religious really feel of the place. I used to be simply standing there on my own when my mom, who had flown over with dad the day earlier than, walked up the race. I don’t understand how she discovered me, however we stood there and shared that second collectively.



‘I perceive the strangeness of my story’

After we turned and walked again down to go away, that peace disappeared. It was time to embrace the craziness of a Grand Ultimate.


My teammates, who have been raised on the sport and its historical past, have been properly forward of me in what to anticipate. I barely knew what the hell was occurring.


For a begin, there was the parade. I discover it loopy that the parade occurs earlier than you really win, and even play, a sport. Within the US you’d have parades for somebody who wins the entire thing.


Then there was the media day. I had folks from all around the world asking me questions. I spent two or three hours doing media. Everybody else? Possibly half-hour.


I’m all the time completely happy to present again and I perceive the strangeness of my story. I’ve all the time valued myself as that person who didn’t actually know what footy was. And if I may give again to the neighborhood in any sense, or get via to that little child that’s watching, I really feel like I’ve executed my job for the membership and the game.


That was a loopy week. It’s most likely completely different for the fellows this yr given the circumstances of being in Perth. Possibly it’s a far much less demanding week than you might need everytime you do a Grand Ultimate on the MCG in entrance of all of your family and friends.


They’ll pull themselves out of that Victorian bubble and have the ability to actually deal with the sport.


On sport day, after extricating myself from the again seat of the world’s smallest Uber, we went via our pregame routines.


Scott Pendlebury, who had performed in a Grand Ultimate earlier than, had given everybody this recommendation:


‘You would attempt to deal with this week as another week however it’s not. Attempt to stick with routine however realise this week can be like no different.’


That was nice to listen to from a man who had been via the ranks, had a profitable profession and is without doubt one of the most mature guys within the league now.


The sport, in opposition to West Coast, was powerful going.


Within the first quarter there was a second the place Tom Barrass poked me within the eye. I came upon a few yr and half later after I received an harm in my different eye that I’d suffered a indifferent retina within the Grand Ultimate.


The primary half didn’t go properly for me. I hadn’t actually touched the ball an excessive amount of, hadn’t made an influence on the scoreboard and after I got here again into the rooms and sat all the way down to reset, I felt that weight.


One of many coaches got here as much as me and stated ‘the previous half you may’t do something about, however the subsequent half of the sport, you may management.’


Earlier than the Grand Ultimate, Craig McRae, who has been named head coach now, gave me the recommendation to ‘management the controllables’. It has all the time caught with me, and I considered that.


I bear in mind going into second half considering ‘stuff it, it could possibly’t get a lot worse than the primary one, let’s have a crack right here’.


I performed fairly properly within the second half, kicked a number of targets and for not less than a piece of that half I assumed ‘we’re gonna win this’.



‘Abnormal folks, extraordinary stress’

Dom Sheed kicked the successful objective for the Eagles and we fell quick by 5 factors in what’s thought of one of many biggest AFL Grand Finals.


It took some time to recover from. However every time I am going again to the States, get again to household and pals, I get a actuality verify.


Dwelling in Melbourne, taking part in for Collingwood, you assume ‘that is loopy, everyone seems to be paying consideration, everybody has opinions on it’. In the US folks go ‘who the f***’s Collingwood?”


AFL individuals are very obsessed with it. They’ll get upset and typically it’s only a knee jerk response.


I get that they only need what’s finest for the membership. And when you’re not performing on the stage they anticipate you to, then there’s going to be criticism alongside the best way.


The superb factor about Australia – and I don’t assume it’s actually occurring elsewhere on the earth – is the general public notion of what an athlete is, is type of altering.


Individuals are beginning to realise that footballers are extraordinary individuals who have this extraordinary stress of AFL.


There may be loads of discuss, and motion, round psychological well being proper now with gamers, and generally society given the pressures that COVID has placed on lots of people.


It has modified the notion of what an athlete is. I don’t see myself as somebody who’s higher than anybody else. I simply see myself as an extraordinary human in extraordinary circumstances.


In Australia you’re surrounded by it 24/7 and each choice you make is for the betterment of the membership and your self and you then come again right here, and you actually get to loosen up and detox from that stress.


It’s a ravishing factor. Final yr I didn’t have the chance to try this and it performed on my thoughts a bit after a troublesome yr. It meant going into final yr wasn’t best. And now, I’m right here and I’m sitting and gazing a ravishing lake.



‘What are you upset about?’

I see this as having been an enormous journey.


I couldn’t have fathomed I’d have ended up the place I’m at now, had the profession I had previously and hopefully sooner or later as properly.


Some superb issues have occurred to me. I got here via that week of being upset after the Grand Ultimate and I assumed ‘man you bought to expertise what lots of people won’t ever expertise.


‘There are those that play AFL their complete careers who would dream of taking part in the Grand Ultimate.


‘You won’t have gained it, however you bought to expertise AFL to the fullest expertise.’


I received to expertise a parade, a prelim and a Grand Ultimate and I did it inside 4 years of realizing what the sport was.


‘What are you upset about?’ I assumed. ‘That is superior man. You ought to be so grateful to have that have relatively than being upset about one thing that you just’re not going to have the ability to change now.


‘You’ve executed your finest, and sadly it didn’t go your manner and that’s life.


‘You’ll be able to’t sit there and be upset about it.’


Now I need to get to that subsequent stage of successful it. There may be additional motivation to have the ability to get again to that time and to return out the opposite finish on high.




‘I’ll completely again you’

I’m 100% planning to play subsequent yr. I’ve received no concept the place it’s going to be, what the contract’s going to seem like or something like that.


At Collingwood it’s a brand new coach, a brand new every thing actually – it has been fully circled.


Craig McRae is the primary coach I had in Australia, and he is without doubt one of the fundamental causes I used to be profitable.


His real care and manner he went about it, with out that I’d have by no means been within the place I’m as we speak and had the experiences I’ve had.


We’ve been actually good pals all through all of it however I instructed him, ‘man, this can be a as soon as in a lifetime alternative for you and it doesn’t matter what the choice is, whether or not it’s hold me or let me go, I need you to verify it’s finest for you, finest for the membership and going to provide the finest alternative as a coach. Don’t put something that’s private in the best way of that.


‘No matter manner you need to go, I’ll completely again you and I’ll completely perceive, and I simply need what’s finest for you.’


That’s basically the dialog I had with him. And he was type of gauging the place I’m at.


I’m open to concepts and open to what the long run holds.


It’s been a tremendous expertise to date and I’m excited for what this subsequent chapter could be. For now, I’m having fun with household time. It’s been two years since I’ve seen them and I haven’t actually been in a position to work together with them an excessive amount of.


I need to take pleasure in my detox out right here in America and make some high quality reminiscences with the household.


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