Maggie Caris often has to pinch herself when she takes to Melbourne's training ground.
The 19-year-old has traded country ovals for elite facilities and calls football icons like Daisy Pearce and Karen Paxman her teammates.
Now, with the AFLW season underway, the Horsham Saints product is coming to grips with a dream come true.
"It's pretty surreal," Caris told the Mail-Times.
"You dream to be a part of it when you're younger, but now it's happened. I sometimes have to pinch myself and say that it's real.
"It's definitely rewarding to have all your hard work (recognised) and now the season's finally starting."
The Demons drafted Caris with pick 17 of the 2020 AFLW Draft before snapping up fellow GWV Rebel and Stawell export Isabella Simmons with their final selection.
The western Victorian duo joins a six-strong group of draftees, who many believe can push Melbourne towards a maiden AFLW flag.
"It's good that there's a good group of us (draftees). Hopefully, we'll go through a few more years together," Caris said.
"It's allowed us to develop a good friendship. We're all in the same boat and dealing with the new things that are happening around us.
"That's been a great group, and it's allowed us to expand and get to know other girls in the club as well."
Caris missed selection for Melbourne's season opener - a 9.2 (56) to 5.5 (35) victory against Gold Coast.
Though, the emerging ruck has already pulled on on the famous red-and-blue.
Caris featured in the Demons' practice match win against Geelong a few weeks earlier and had to stare down a familiar face at stoppages.
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The match was Caris' first game since the COVID-19 pandemic ended the NAB League season in March last year.
"It was good to finally get into action and work on all the things I've been learning," she said.
"I haven't played a proper game of football since COVID hit, so it was awesome just to get in there.
"It was very competitive, and it was good to play against my sister, Rene.
"We had a few ruck contests here and there and few little disputes. But, it was good to have her there when I was playing my first match."
Melbourne's next game is against Richmond on Saturday night.
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