For Connor, his approach to stability means investing in a future beyond AFL. “Last week, I had my graduation [with] a commerce degree,’ he says. “When I first moved to Perth at the end of 2013, I was able to start my degree. From then on, I’ve just been chipping away doing units each semester – year in, year out.”
Although studying and performing as an elite athlete presents its own challenges, Connor credits this approach as having a positive impact on the rest of his life. “It definitely helps to be able to take time and energy away from football and toward something else.”
The importance of these pursuits is recognised by the club, too. “We’ve got a Player Development Manager, Mark Anderson, and his sole prerogative is to make sure that guys are doing something outside of the club that [is] progressing their career paths post-football,” he says.
Now, football clubs take a more holistic approach to the lives of their players. “What had come from, say, 10 or 20 years ago was that a lot of guys finishing up AFL didn’t necessarily have something to lean back on,” says Connor. “[Now], having such structured guidelines on different things you can do [has] allowed a lot of guys to step out of footy and be confident and happy.”