Bryce Retzlaff Debut Game for The Brisbane Lions

USP - Bryce Retzlaff debut game for Brisbane Lions

Two PIT Athletes make their AFL Debuts in 2 weeks for the same team-that has to be a first for any coach! Its always great to see one of the athletes you have coached achieve one of their goals and dreams. On Saturday night, former Ultimate Sports Performance and PIT Athlete Bryce Retzlaff debuted for the Lions.

I still vividly remember stting down with Bryce and his father Hawk at the initial interview. At the time it was a long shot for him to even consider being drafted as he missed the previous year of footy to focus on his work. After speaking with his step brother Dayne Beams.

He decided in his own words   “To give it a shot and give 100%“, 

Beams said “If he was serious about becoming an AFL footballer he needed to get into THE PIT and train like a man possessed“! 

Train like a man possessed he did, unfortunately, Bryce only managed to play a handful of games during the year due to long term injuries, a broken hand, busted fingers and broken leg, and it appeared unlikely he would get drafted. But there was something more to this kid, he never missed a PIT training session during the entire year even though he sustained these injuries, yes, he trained on crutches and never once whinged or made an excuse,

He simply asked, “Joey what can I do today to be better tomorrow“?

Now this was commitment and for a young man to have this level commitment is very rare! I knew this kid was different and had the makings of something special.   

Somehow, Bryce managed to score an invitation to the QLD state draft screening in October, but his luck took a turn for the worst once again. A few weeks prior to the Draft Testing he broke his foot! Even with a broken foot he was determined not to miss out on the testing and would perform them anyway regardless of the pain!

He basically performed the tests on 1 leg and certainly didn’t look like an athlete as he hobbled through the beep test and other physical assessments. He performed the tests as well as he could with a broken foot, but certainly did not set the world on fire with his results! After the testing he took a well earned rest and some down time from what was an interesting year.

I didn’t hear from him for about a month-I still remember it like yesterday it was 9pm in November 2009-I received a phone from Bryce.

He told me had some bad news and that “He would not be able to train in THE PIT during the pre-season this summer” when I enquired as to “Why” he said, “because I just got drafted to the Brisbane Lions“!

I was speechless!

I didn’t know what to say, no one expected him to get drafted, he wasn’t even a smokey for the draft, yet somehow this kid had managed to do the impossible.

He managed to be the only Queensland footballer drafted to the AFL in 2009!

True champions overcome adversity-I could recount another hundred stories of junior athletes that I’ve coached that have overcome the odds and tremendous adversity to achieve their dreams of becoming a professional athlete.

That’s why it is so satisfying when you see the athletes make their debut as it is a small stepping stone towards future greatness. Its also satisfying when you see your athletes mature, grow and develop but more importantly be rewarded for their sacrifices, commitment and ability to overcome adversity.

Often people only see the end result-the athlete playing their sport, very few people know or see first hand the discipline, commitment, focus and work ethic required to get to the elite level, nor the numerous challenges athletes face along the way to become elite.

Bryce from everyone at THE PIT congratulations on your debut.

All the best,

Joey Hayes