Nat Grider is helping shape the next generation at the Brisbane Lions.
And as a two-time All-Australian, AFLW premiership player and Vice-Captain of the Brisbane Lions team she is well experienced to do so.
Grider officially took on a coaching role at the Lions in August last year after graduating from University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Sciences (Honours).
“I’m working within the academy as a strength and conditioning coach,” the Lions leader said.
“I finished off my university degree at the end of last year and then got the opportunity to work at the club, which I’m super grateful for.
“For me, it is a lot of learning along the way and using what I learnt at university to the best of my ability and trying to help the next crop of talent coming especially with the girls in the women’s space.”
A graduate of the Lions Academy herself, Grider is now a senior member of the Lions AFLW squad.
The Lions defender believes she has an opportunity to give back to the Club and help mould the next crop of young talent.
“For me, coming through the academy when I got drafted, I knew a little bit about it, I knew how it operated, what I loved about and what I didn’t as a player.
“So, to then get the opportunity to go back and make little changes here has been awesome and to help the girls to be the best footballers they can be.
“Being able to give them the opportunity to hopefully get drafted to an AFLW team, whether that is with us at the Lions and potentially calling them teammates someday or if they go elsewhere but it has been awesome, and I’ve loved having that impact on the younger girls.
“It has been really exciting to be there to give advice and help out as much as I can.”
Grider is a young leader of her own team, a coach of the new generation and is beginning to truly understand the importance of mentoring.
Having been a player under the guidance of premiership captain Emma Zielke and now coaching alongside her, Grider is incredibly appreciative for her own mentor.
“When I first came into the AFLW program, Emma was our captain and I looked up to her a lot and I still do to this day.
“I think it has been a real eye-opening experience for me, just being able to work alongside her and learn as much as I have both in footy and coaching.
“She is really passionate about her job and I’m very lucky to call her my boss.
“We collaborate with each other really well with ideas, trust each in what we know about footy and then the commitment we have in making the girls the best football players they can be.”
Taking her newfound skills and using them in a leadership setting amongst her teammates is something that Grider sees as an opportunity.
Through what she has learnt as a coach, Grider believes that her leadership style will be positively impacted.
“Leadership is such a massive part of footy and for me I’m constantly learning on the go,” she said.
“I’m surrounded by such amazing leaders in Bree Koenen and Emma Zielke but it is something that continues to change the more you’re involved in footy.
“The more you learn about yourself and the game, I hope that every year I become a better a leader because that is what you strive for when you’re in these positions.
“I think having that experience of being somebody who the under 18s girls look up to and listen to, you have that added bit of responsibility and I think it makes you mature as a person and will definitely corelate to my leadership skills.”
Embarking on her sixth season as a Brisbane Lion, Grider believes that there are learnings from her time coaching that will translate to her own game.
This may be a scary prospect for oppositions as Grider returns in 2023, a back-to-back All-Australian.
“My first few weeks running the under-18s program I’d get home after coaching and I was a like ‘wow’, you just learn so much about what the coaches go through to run our trainings sessions.
“Particularly being in this role, about how I present to the group and then I will go back to my own training sessions and I’ll watch how our strength and conditioning coach present to us.
“I’ve learnt so much engaging that little bit extra in what they are teaching us as players and how that correlates to what I teach as a coach to the under 18 girls.
“So many little things that you never really think appreciate to the extent that we probably should as players.”
Looking toward the 2023 AFLW Season, Grider is ready to start building with the group toward another successful campaign.
“The whole group is excited now that we know exactly when we are coming back,” Grider said.
“We can basically start to count down to round one now, it makes it all that little bit more real after having such a long period off.
“The team is super excited to get back into training and see what we can achieve for the next season.”