"I feel like I'm in the camp of: 'I have no idea'": Dante Visentini on being drafted
'Dragon Tales' is a series of indepth feature stories on some of our top prospects in 2021, exploring their junior careers, their upbringing, the ups and downs of the dealing with COVID complications and more, written by Jonty Ralphsmith. This week we will be focusing on key position player Dante Visentini.
To get to Xavier College, Dante Visentini needed to catch two different train lines and then a tram. Or he could choose to walk the last leg of the journey.
Whichever way he did it, two hours were wiped out of his day due to travel. It was time he’d recover in the move to online schooling.
As well as giving him time to train, it also provided Visentini with an opportunity to put his head down for his year 12 studies. The result was acceptance into a biomedicine degree at Monash University, alongside his Italian elective. Biostatistics caught his eye during the year, but he wants to keep his options open. He has always had an intellectual streak to him.
"He read all of the Roald Dahl books and Enid Blyton. He was found reading in a corner quite often, good kid, a little bit shy and lots of activities and sports," Dad, Paul recalls.
"He was well-educated in the sense of having balance and being aware of how [he is] feeling and that can help with good performance.
"He wouldn’t be that engrossed in footy type guy, he’d be interested in lots of other things. Already he’s excited about potentially going away interstate for an adventure so he’s pretty keen to explore and take that next step.”
A chat to him brings out his worldliness. Dante is careful, selective and precise with the words he chooses. In between lockdowns, he returns to Xavier several times per week as a tutor.
“Last year and this year have been pretty tough to complete your final year of education so even though it’s a job and we do get paid, it’s nice to think you’re helping people to push the final sprint for 13 years of school and impart a bit of knowledge and help them out.”
Being at university means he doesn’t have exams until the days preceding the NAB AFL draft, and from a footy perspective, the formalities appear done, as he missed the combine on Sunday with a hip complaint.
It leaves him much time to ponder his future in the next five weeks.
“It feels weird.
“For years you’re watching people you don’t know. And then the last couple of years, a few of the names you’ve known through Sandy and other footy get drafted and it’s weird to think this is our age group’s year for it.
"It’s exciting to think about the possibilities for what could occur. I'm also a bit nervous. It either happens or it doesn’t and you evaluate where you want to go in the next year and what you do. It would be awesome and a great opportunity if it does happen and there’s not that much left to do this year to impact the result with everything wrapping-up, so I’ll just put my best foot forward.
"I always try and stay realistic because there’s no point telling yourself a lie or trying to hope something eventuates without things in place.
"It could go either way…but it’s an interesting position to be in, there’s not a lot of external pressure, I feel like I fly under the radar a bit, I’m always realistic and the fact that I have played in these teams, and the combine invite and a few of these interviews allow myself to think I’m a chance. There’s some nice indications but, like every year, you don’t know.
“I guess there’s some people that know they will be drafted, they just don’t know where to. I feel like I’m in the camp of: ‘I have no idea’."
His retrospective season reflection is an exhibit of his strong mindset: supremely positive, yet intricately self-aware.
“I probably didn’t make the most of the early games playing as a forward. I don’t like having any regrets, but there are a few things that I could have focussed on and done a bit differently but it’s never good to look at things in hindsight.
“I probably could have tried to play a bit more simply. I was trying to think too much and I learnt things during the season - having never played NAB League, and not played for a while - I would have liked to have implemented earlier.
“It would have been nice to make the most of the early games with the season cut short but the lower level performances helped me learn and improve which was maybe why I had some better form in the latter half of the season.”
Asked about his mindset, he says: “It would be tough to live your life making decisions and second-guessing them all the time.
“If you are faced with something, you’ve got to accept whatever you’ve chosen and if it leads to a good outcome it’s a good choice, but then if it doesn’t work out, you learn and try to do the right thing next time. You would be burdened mentally if you were constantly thinking about things you’ve done and I don’t want that weighing on me.”
Thanks for reading this week's edition of 'Dragons Tales'. Next week, we'll get to know creative forward Blake Howes.