SOUTH Australia's Nikki Gore has sacrificed more than the average teenager in the course of her young football career.
Gore, along with her surfer twin sister Amy, decided to stop their traditional secondary school education at Tatachilla Lutheran College, near McLaren Vale, about 40km south of Adelaide, at the end of year nine. Instead, the pair took up online schooling.
She's studying health, child studies, sport practices and completing a research project, having already finished a certificate course in fitness.
"I've got a scholarship for Open Access College (a South Australian Government-run distance-education provider) and do my schooling through that," Gore said.
"It allows me to train more and work around my training and playing schedule, which is good.
"I definitely miss school. I wanted to go back, but when I was there I was always away and missing things. The online schooling has been more flexible for me.
"It's been hard sitting at home trying to have the motivation to do it yourself without the support of teachers right there in the room, but it's been good to have my sister do it with me."
The strong-bodied midfielder has been playing footy since she was 11, initially with boys at the McLaren Eagles and then at Christies Beach.
Gore graduated to the club's seniors in the SAWFL at the age of 16.
She also plays for South Adelaide in the higher-standard SANFLW (which runs concurrently with the AFLW season) and was the team's best and fairest this year.
Gore also played two games for VFLW side Northern Territory Thunder this season in between her under-18 state commitments.
Footy has always been on the mind of the 17-year-old Adelaide fan.
"I just loved watching the game, I really got into it. Since I was a little kid, I've been at the footy every weekend," Gore said.
"I didn't really like other sports that were non-contact, so I wanted to give footy a crack and fell in love with how fun it was.
"Being a midfielder, I've always watched (Crows star Rory Sloane) to see how he goes about the game. Since the AFLW has come in, it's been good to watch (Adelaide co-captain) Chelsea Randall play."
AFLW talent manager Aasta O'Connor said Gore's willingness to work hard and improve was almost her undoing earlier this year. She said Gore had overtrained at times but had now found the right balance.
"She had a great year in the SANFLW, winning their Rising Star award," O'Connor said.
"I've seen her work really hard on her kicking and execution. If you had have looked back at Champion Data stats, for a player who mainly spends time as an inside midfielder, her efficiency is pretty high.
"She can (use the ball on) both sides. She's got that left foot to get her out of pack situations, which is a weapon," she said.
"The next step for Nikki is to find a second position. She can clearly play in the midfield, but as an 18-year-old, it's hard to walk straight into an AFLW midfield.
"But her best asset is being open to new challenges and learning new things – that's certainly in her favour."