Brad Bernacki’s determination to prove people wrong was the catalyst for him taking out the Robert Hyde Medal as the Calder Cannons best and fairest.
After missing out on selection in the Vic Metro squad, Bernacki sat down with talent manager Ian Kyte and coach Andrew Johnston to talk about his game.
“I had a better season after round five and really picked up the pace,” he said.
“I had the review with Kytey and Johno and we said the best thing for me was to try and be the best player outside Vic Metro.”
From that point Bernacki’s game lifted another level – he was not only a standout player for the Cannons, but the competition.
He finished second in the Morrish Medal for the TAC Cup best and fairest, and on Friday night collected the Robert Hyde Medal ahead of Jack Bytel and Mitch Podhajski.
Despite his standout season, Bernacki didn’t think he was going to take home the award.
“I thought Pods, Jack Bytel, Noah Bolta or Jake Riccardi would win it.
“Pods had a really good start to the season and that could have set him up for the win.
“It’s a real privilege to win the award.
“Looking at the past winners, it’s a real honour.”
Bernacki also took out the Cannons’ most courageous award. The award night capped off a good two years for Bernacki who burst onto the scene early last year.
He finished third in the club’s best and fairest award last season and this season was named captain of the side.
Bernacki said being named captain was a special honour.
“That was chosen not only by the coaches, but the players as well. It’s another stepping stone.”
The 17-year-old, who is aligned with East Sunbury, says an AFL career remains the dream despite the setbacks.
“Ever since I was a little kid I’ve wanted to play AFL. I would sit out the front kitted in my Essendon gear.
“A big motivating thing has been setbacks along the way,” he said.
“Missing out on the draft combine is another one. You have to step up and keep going.
“I’ve done everything I can to be picked, I’ve got to now wait for November.”
Between now and the draft, Bernacki is planning to continue doing what he can to try and get drafted.
In other awards, Podhajski was named most improved, Jacob Nicol won the coaches award, Bytel the team targets award, and Lachlan Sholl the best on track.