By Callum O'Connor
Two weeks ago, Eleanor Cornish became the first member of the VFL Women’s development train-on squad to be elevated to the senior list when she debuted against Collingwood.
Five players can be signed on the development train-on squad. These players train with the senior group but are unavailable for match selection unless a position on the senior list is opened by either long-term injury or unavailability.
After forward Danica Pedersen moved to Carlton, the door opened for the 18-year-old to don the sash as a senior player.
The phone call for which Cornish had waited nearly four months arrived on the Tuesday night before the match.
“I was over the moon. I was speechless on the phone,” she recalls of her reaction to coach Brendan Major breaking the news.
“I remember just straight away answering, ‘Hey what’s up, Major!?’, really quickly,” she said.
As far as the circumstances of debuts go, Cornish’s was undoubtedly intimidating: in blustery conditions against the undefeated Collingwood, the newcomer resolved to find her feet as quickly as she could.
“A lot of it was trying to trust myself and what I know and apply it to the new environment,” she surmises.
“That was the big takeaway, pushing myself to make an impact.”
Cornish is one of seven young Bombers who have come to The Hangar via TAC Cup side the Calder Cannons, but she has had the added honour of representing Vic Metro in the 2017 NAB AFLW Under 18s’ National carnivals.
“It’s a more professional environment,” she said when comparing Essendon to Calder.
“We watch more vision here than we did at Cannons, the training sessions are longer, the gym sessions are more intense … it’s been good.”
Cornish has put her waiting to good use, spending the winter months poring over learning the intricacies of football at Essendon.
“Even though I’m playing in a senior side at local rather than Under 18s, the bodies are much bigger. Even though I’m tall myself, it’s a bit of an upgrade.
“I’ve really enjoyed learning about the game with Major. He’s put a different spin on what I’m used to, it’s a deeper thinking.”
A deeper thinking that could take the newest Bomber to new heights in VFL Women’s.
Essendon will play Williamstown at Windy Hill on Saturday from 3.00pm.