Nick Stuhldreier, the son of a country football legend, is relishing the chance to skipper the Western Jets in the TAC Cup.
Stuhldreier is working as a co-captain alongside teammate Luke Hitch as part of a four-player leadership group.
“It’s a big honour being recognised as one of the best leaders in the region,” Stuhldreier said.
“I was a bit shocked and it was pretty humbling being voted in by your peers.
“It shows that you have the respect of your teammates.”
Stuhldreier gives the Western Jets leadership set-up the thumbs up.
The Jets opted to have representation in all three age groups that make up the side, giving a voice to the bottom-age 17-year-old players.
“It’s good that we’ve got a spread across all the age groups because in the past it’s been left to the second-year players and the first year players have sometimes been scared to stand up,” he said.
Stuhldreier believes sharing the captaincy is beneficial. The workload is not as much of a burden as it would be if an individual was named.
“It’s not so much responsibility just left on one person and we both can bring things to the table.”
Stuhldreier has mixed his leadership with good form on the field in the early rounds of the season.
The 18-year-old has been in the Western Jets’ best players for his past two matches and was the stand-out for his side in the most recent game against Sandringham Dragons.
“I started off slow first round, but the last two rounds I’ve started to built up some form,” he said.
Stuhldreier has taken on a new playing role for the Jets.
Last year, the boy from Bacchus Marsh was used in a rebounding role off half-back, but this season he has graduated to the midfield.
That versatility is probably what saw him earn a call-up to Vic Metro’s extended squad, in which he is hoping to survive the final cut.
Stuhldreier and his brother, Ryley, a former Western Jet and once on Geelong’s VFL list, were born to play football.
Their father, Chris, who has had a major influence on their football careers, was a country football legend for Kyabram in the Goulburn Valley Football League, which granted him hall of fame status last year, and for Lavington in the Ovens and Murray Football League.
“Dad didn’t play at the highest level, but I think he kicked 100 goals for 10 years straight [including 171 in a single season in 1993] in the Goulburn Valley league and the Ovens and Murray league,” Nick said.
“He got approached by a couple of [AFL] clubs, but he’s a police officer and at the time he was young, and it wasn’t really paying well to play, so he chose to stick with his career and played country footy and kicked close to 2000 goals.”
Stuhldreier, though, would jump at the chance of an AFL career. The one-eyed Western Bulldogs fan said it was his dream to make it to the big league.
The St Patrick’s College year 12 student was named the Jets’ best first-year player last season, but he wants to take his football up another level to be considered a draft chance.
“It was good to be recognised last year, but I want to build on that this year,” he said. “I’m aiming to make it to the AFL.”