K rock Football

Upgraded role for Foley

Geelong’s AFLW coaching staff for 2022 (left to right): Elise Coventry, Josh Finch, Dan Lowther, Aaron Black, Jess Foley and David Morgan. (Geelong Cats Image/Arj Giese)

JESS Foley says her involvement with Geelong’s AFLW program across the 2021 season has “ignited a passion for coaching” for the Adelaide premiership player.

Foley, who played in the Crows’ 2019 premiership, has been upgraded to an assistant coaching role after spending last year as a ruck coach following her move to the region.

The former US College and WNBL basketball star will take charge of the Cats’ defensive unit.

“Which I think a few people are a bit confused about because I played ruck mostly as a player,” Foley told krockfootball.com.au.

“But, I was initially drafted to the Crows as a defender and spent my entire first pre-season in that role under Peter Caven over there.

“So, I feel really comfortable with that and really think it’s a pretty straightforward kind of position to coach.

“I think basketball tendencies and positioning lends itself to that as well.

“Hopefully, I can give them some new insights, but we’ve got some pretty experienced players.”

Foley has moved into the position made vacant by Geelong AFL star Tom Stewart’s decision to step away from the AFLW program following the birth of his first child earlier in the year.

The elevation of Dan Lowther to the head coaching role following the departure of Paul Hood opened up a role in the midfield, with development coach Josh Finch promoted to that position.

Former Geelong and North Melbourne player Aaron Black remains as forwards coach, with Elise Coventry and David Morgan continuing as development coaches.

Foley has made a rapid rise to an assistant coaching role, having not had a formal involvement in Australian football until being drafted as a 35-year-old in 2018.

“I haven’t got a long background in footy – I’ve been an avid supporter for a long time,” she said.

“But, I think my sporting background makes me really interested in learning. As soon as I started playing footy, I became a bit of a student of the game as well.

“And a lot of the coaching principles are the same, no matter what you’re coaching.

“I can’t really seem to get away from sport – I’m very drawn to it.

“It’s probably something I’ll have to be involved in for the rest of my life, by the looks of it.”

After a horror 2021 campaign in which Geelong managed just one win from nine starts to finish above only wooden spooner Gold Coast, Foley has been impressed with the Cats’ approach to pre-season.

“They’ve responded really well,” she said. “You can see a lot of the girls have put in heaps of work over the off-season.

“There’s some really fit girls – they’ve been doing all the extra sessions offered, so I’m really optimistic.

“I’m really excited for the group to see what they can do, and hopefully, we give them enough direction to channel all of that energy and work that they’ve done.”

Twitter: @tom_king79