When I look in the mirror, I see an AFLW player staring back at me.

Because that is what I am now.

I am no longer the former junior basketball star, that I am so often labelled as.

Yes – I was offered full athletic scholarship to three NCAA Division I Colleges to play basketball in the United States and had I continued on my trajectory, than I would have had every chance to graduate into the WNBA.

Fulfilling a lifelong dream that not only I, but my entire family have worked so hard for.

In recent weeks though, I have come to terms with myself that basketball is no more for me.

I have said my goodbyes to the hardwood; and while that may be so, I will never forget what the game of basketball has given to me.

Basketball taught me how to keep pushing through the hard stuff, when all I wanted to do was stop and give up.

I learned the fundamentals of playing in a team, but most of all, basketball gave me the platform to just be myself.

When I was on the court, nothing else seemed to matter.

I loved that feeling more than anything.

However, the time is right for me to let basketball go.

I am comfortable with that position, as too are my parents, which has made my decision to pursue an AFLW career all the more easier.

Their blessing makes me feel supported, because I know they have backed me in to make the right decision.

In many ways, basketball has helped me to find footy.

chloe molloy exclusive insight

Many of today’s AFLW players share similar background stories; they were told at a young age they couldn’t play footy anymore due to the lack of pathways for women’s footy, and as such found other sports to pursue.

For me, that was basketball.

I consider myself incredibly lucky to have been quite successful in the sport; I kind of worked myself up the traps.

I started being selected for representatives games. From there, state championships and before I knew it I was part of the national junior women’s basketball program.

When you make it to that level, you start receiving a number of approaches from some of basketball’s top pro-scouts in the world.

I was fortunate that my family was able to save enough money for me to participate in a basketball tour over in America, which further exposed me to the culture over there as well as a number of top tier college coaches who travel from across the country to see me play.

I had ten of America’s most successful universities all submit expressions of interest for me, but due to NCAA rules, I could only spend 48 hours on campus.

In the end, we decided to only entertain three universities, each of which were Division 1 basketball schools in the NCAA.

I toured everything – the basketball facilities, the campus’, the classrooms, the surrounding suburbs – my Mum and I had a blast when we were over there!

It was seriously amazing and the whole time I was being pitched to by the athletic directors. I was just in awe.

Collingwood’s facilities are amazing – but this was a completely different level.

I mean, who even thinks about having a Touch ID access point for a basketball training centre!

It was a surreal three weeks. We headed back home and had two weeks to reach a decision as to where I would commit my basketball future.

In the end, I opted to commit to Virginia Commonwealth University – it marked a moment I had worked so hard for throughout my entire high school life.

All those early morning starts, and weekends spent away from friends so that I could compete at representative basketball games,  in hope of one day being able to pursue a career in the sport.

I had finally made it on a basketball court, yet at the exact same time, footy was becoming more and more of a present in my life as well.

It was weird timing to be honest.

It all started thanks to a girl from my neighbourhood, that was being drafted to the Melbourne Football Club. We became friends pretty quickly.

She became a big influence in my life, and I would spend weekends around my basketball schedule watching her play footy and I would just sit there thinking “Geez, get me out on that field”!

I just loved the sport from the moment I laid my eyes on the sherrin.

chloe molloy ex insight

Before I knew it, I was on the verge of departing the country to go play for Virginia CU, leaving my friends and family behind.

I couldn’t do it.

Not because of my support network, but also because there was something special pulling me towards AFLW football.

I wanted to be drafted. Plain and simple.

I fell in love with the game, and despite everything I ever worked towards in basketball, I knew my heart belonged to another sport.

So in the end I told Virginia CU I wasn’t going to be hopping on that flight.

A few weeks later, I would be walking into Holden Centre as a Magpie after Collingwood parted with their first overall selection (#3) in the 2017 AFLW draft.

And I can honestly say, it has been the best summer ever.

chloe molloy - exclusive insight

I’ve never had so much fun playing sport and I don’t regret my decision to walk away from basketball for one second.

The AFLW competition is becoming more popular by the day, and I am committed to working hard in a bid to forge a 10+ year career playing “my new sport”.

Winning the AFLW rising star nomination for round one was a tremendous boost of confidence.

Sometimes when you go so high in the draft, people have high expectations for you, so it has been nice to match that with my opening round performances.

Each day I am working as hard as I possibly can, and absolutely loving being part of what we are building at Collingwood.

I am an AFLW player now.

Chloe Molloy

Chloe Molloy is an AFLW player for the Collingwood Magpies.