"Small forward pocket" to prototype wingman: Mitch Owens' transformation
By Jonty Ralphsmith
For Mitch Owens, 2020 allowed his footy ability to catch up to his rapidly growing frame.
The 17-year-old, listed at 190cm entering the 2021 season, was about 15 centimetres shorter when he lined-up in the forward pocket for local club Beaumaris at the start of 2019.
Come season’s end, his size saw him thrown into the ruck – a role he wasn't accustomed to.
That required him to get to every stoppage, use his body, jump, and play as a fourth midfielder.
Fitness and building strength were therefore the two primary focusses of his lockdown.
“During COVID I was able to get with some friends (including fellow Sandringham player Jacob Edwards) and do some running sessions and skills sessions in the morning before online school which was good,” Owens said.
“I was able to get school gym stuff which helped a lot.”
Working with his brother, former Dragon, now Frankston Dolphin, Kai Owens, the pair got to work on adding weight to his frame, in readiness for his penultimate NAB League season.
“My brother Kai has been massive – he was pretty much my personal trainer.
“It was strange at first but getting tips from him helped teach me how to use my body physically.”
Confidence in his new-found size was on show against Dandenong in round three, with a pair of contested marks, adding to a portfolio of one-on-one wins across the first three weeks.
“Even in preseason, training with the Dragons, a lot of the players are big bodies so using my body is something I feel more comfortable and I like to do now.”
Owens has primarily been playing on the wing and in the absence of vice-captain Campbell Chesser, he stepped-up with a near best-afield 21 disposal outing against the Stingrays.
He won early possessions, delivered the ball handsomely inside 50 and ran both ways, showing his defensive accountability.
"I thought I ran a lot harder defensively so getting a few disposals there was awesome.
“Jacko always talks about being in the defensive 50 all the time and helping out the defenders.
“Starting on the field for the first time, I felt like I needed to lift that game and I thought I played well.
“I was able to get into the right spots and got more of the ball than I usually do.”
A naturally nervous person, Owens was quiet in the first fortnight as he adjusted to the pace and intensity of NAB League footy, but he hopes his hot round three performance can kickstart his campaign.
He is now playing school footy at Mentone Grammar in the AGSV competition and he hopes that having more of an impact there can give him confidence when he returns for the Dragons.