On the rise as a New Zealand basketball player, Kurt Heatherley (Sargood
2008–10) certainly didn’t think he would end up playing Aussie rules football for the Hawthorn Football Club (the Hawkes).
He was “shooting hoops” in the St Paul’s gym when the School’s Director of Extracurricular Activities Peter Gilbert approached him to say the club was interested in having him on board.
“When I first got picked I didn’t even know what AFL was,” Kurt admits. “I was playing basketball for the New Zealand under-17 team and was fortunate enough that they saw me play in Tasmania against Australia. A few months later they got hold of St Paul’s and Mr Gilbert passed on the message.”
He thought it was a prank and that one of the boys in his boarding house, Sargood House, was pulling his leg. It wasn’t a prank, the Hawkes were serious. Kurt’s parents – Julie and Laurie – received a phone call that resulted in the president of the club flying over to speak with Kurt face-to-face.
“He asked me if I wanted to come over and give it a crack. I was tossing up between basketball and rugby at the time but thought it was a great opportunity and one I couldn’t pass up.”
So he jetted off to Melbourne and “has loved every moment of it and hasn’t looked back.”
Kurt has moved up the ranks quickly for someone who only started playing the game five years ago when arriving on Aussie soil. He started off as an international rookie but last year “got upgraded to the senior list” meaning he can now play for the club’s top team.
Kurt has been playing VFL for the past three years which is “sort of like NPC Rugby in New Zealand” but he is now ready to step up to the big league.
“I’ve been going through my vision every week after I play and trying to learn as much as I can. I’ve just been training hard and trying to get up into the top team.”
“It’s a superstar team so it is pretty hard to break into. Hopefully this year I can crack it.”
If he does, he will be launching his career with one of Australia’s most successful AFL teams, the Hawkes, who have won the past three Premierships.
“It’s pretty hard winning one Premiership let alone three in a row. I think only a couple of teams have ever done that before.”