From the heartbreak of two anterior cruciate ligament ruptures, to the glory that comes with lifting a VFL premiership cup, Brendan Whitecross has experienced it all.
The experienced campaigner and former Hawk has joined North, accepting a role as a development coach, and VFL player.
Having settled into his new home at Arden Street, the 28-year-old plans to lead by example - just as he did last season with Box Hill.
“The group we had at Box Hill were very inexperienced,” Whitecross told North Media.
“At times, you would probably say they were a bit immature in terms of football.
“The thing that I was most proud of with that group was when the going got tough [was] their mental state and how they applied themselves, when we were down by ten goals, or up against a wall.”
Whitecross admits that irrespective of circumstance, the mental battle can be ever-present for younger players.
“It doesn’t matter what situation is happening in the game,” he explained.
“They [the players] were able to mentally stay in the game and either fight it out to have a respectful loss, or get over the line and get the win. That’s one thing that I’m proud of, and one thing I’ll try to educate the guys here to do as well.
“You’ve got to just stick fat and you never know what might happen. Because as long as you’re mentally strong, anything can happen.”
Although his playing days are far from over, Whitecross concedes his dual role will create a juggling act of sorts.
“I think it’ll be a bit different being a coach now,” he said.
“At times, I’ll need to pick when I am a mate and when I’ll have to be a coach and give some hard feedback.
“In the last 12 months with the Hawks my role was pretty similar to what I’m doing here at North, albeit the title is now above my name as a coach. I’ve played that role at VFL level with Box Hill, developing the younger guys.”
While his surroundings may have changed, the experienced defender declares it will be business as usual.
“It’s not going to change too much,” Whitecross said.
“It just means that I’ve got to get used to working the computer, putting Keynotes together and taking meetings.
“It’s all up in the air at the moment, but I’m pretty excited to get started.”