Most AFLW players know all about fighting tooth and nail on their way to the top.
Jess Sedunary is no different.
The odds were only worsened when she was told by one of her schoolteachers to put aside her sporting dreams and pursue ‘realistic’ career options.
But in typical Sedge style, she tackled the challenge head on.
“I was told at school to stop focussing on sport because there was no future in it,” Sedunary told saints.com.au.
It’s a good thing she didn’t.
The premier athlete has clawed her way up to become one of the competition’s endurance machines, evolving into a major driver in St Kilda’s inaugural AFLW side.
She’s done so all her life, attacking challenge after challenge with the same crash-and-bash mentality that has defined her career to date.
That grit and steely resolve earned her the nickname ‘Junkyard Dog’ following her first game for the Ingle Farm Football Club.
“I’d just fight and fight for the scraps,” Sedunary said.
That never-say-die attitude hasn’t faded some 10 years later.
If anything, it’s evolved into a ravenous hunger to succeed.
Premiership honours for Adelaide’s AFLW side in 2017 are testament to her commitment, but her rise to the elite competition didn’t come without its share of all-too-familiar obstacles.
They were laid out in front of her right from the beginning.
As a sister to three footy-mad brothers, AFL just didn’t seem like something she’d be able to pursue.
In her own words, “footy just wasn’t something girls did”.
Pursuing cycling, Sedunary represented Australia at the Youth Olympics, marking the first of many milestones as she worked to the bone to prove her doubters wrong.
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But there were times where the dream came close to ending, particularly when the emerging star was unable to afford professional gear.
Racing against girls decked out head-to-toe state-of-the-art gear and boasting bikes leagues ahead of hers, for the first time, Sedge thought about giving it up.
“I was earning $7 an hour at the local café, and I thought maybe that teacher was right,” Sedunary said.
“I almost gave up sport altogether.”
But when the going got tough, she refused to throw in the towel.
It’s been a very similar arc which has seen her rise up the ranks of the AFLW, with the tenacious on-baller drafted to Adelaide in the competition’s maiden year.
Sedunary knows all about getting her hands dirty and putting in the hard yards.
She’s the first one in the gym at RSEA Park long before the sun is up, and when she’s not there, she’ll be out on one of her gut-busting cycles.
Now, she’s a focal point of St Kilda’s AFLW side, fixed solely on rewriting the history books in 2020.
And for Sedge, her motivation is simple.
That ‘Junkyard Dog’ lives on, and it doesn’t look like losing its bite any time soon.