For many 18-year-olds, high school graduation is a major life event by itself, so it's fair to say Josh Goater won't forget his Thursday night in a hurry.
Shortly before arriving at his Sunbury College graduation to a rapturous reception from his schoolmates, Goater was drafted to the North Melbourne Kangaroos with the club's highest second-round draft pick, No.22 overall.
For the lifelong North fan, it was one of the most memorable nights of his young life.
“I was at home with my parents and brother watching the draft, and I was absolutely over the moon when North called my name out,” Goater told North Media.
“David Noble and the boys called me to welcome me aboard and wish me the best, then I did a bit of media, suited up and went to my graduation.
“When I got there my friends really got around me. It was a massive moment to have and it was great.
“Obviously it would have been nice to have my name read out on night one, but I’m over the moon to be at North Melbourne. I’ve been a fan of the club my whole life and I can’t think of a better club to be a part of.”
Arriving at the club for his first training session on Monday, Goater was kept busy meeting teammates, coaches and touring the Arden Street facility.
First day of school. 📚 pic.twitter.com/hsfbGLpsv6— North Melbourne (@NMFCOfficial) November 28, 2021
While first-year players are placed on a different pre-season program to their more experienced teammates, the crop of new draftees will be given every chance to impress over the summer.
After stepping into the professional environment for the first time, he says the inner sanctum at Arden Street is beyond what he could have imagined.
“I think it’s a beautiful place. We’ve got an elite program here, it’s really professional and I’ve been absolutely amazed not only by the facilities we have here but also the history of the club that you can feel as well,” he said.
“You can see that history on the tiles of our mosaic wall, and looking at it and the history that’s on show there, of course you’ll aspire to be one of those players that’s remembered by the club.
“It just inspires you and motivates you to be the best player you can be."
While much of the playing group won’t report for pre-season until next week, Goater and his fellow first years have been welcomed into the club by those already reporting for duty.
Kangas Draft Class of ‘20 & ‘21 🥲💙🤍 pic.twitter.com/iHiOJKFYUh— North Melbourne (@NMFCOfficial) November 28, 2021
As well as established members of the 22 like Luke Davies-Uniacke, fellow new arrivals like Callum Coleman-Jones, and club legends like Brent Harvey, Goater says he’s looking forward to working with some of North’s other young stars.
“People like Will Phillips and Charlie Lazzaro have really stood out to me so far. Even when all of us first- and second-year players went out to dinner on Sunday,” he said.
“They were good with just talking us through things and really being the leaders of that very young group.
“They’re the types of people I want to learn a few things from in terms of how to go about it.
"It’s been good to get amongst the boys, get into the facilities and start to get to know the club a lot more. I’m just absolutely stoked to be here."