Rankin is a big name in Aussie Rules, and a huge name in Geelong, but for Georgie Rankin, footy wasn't always on the horizon.
However, being raised in a football-mad family has led the 21-year-old back to her roots of AFL and the love her family share for the great game.
Rankin’s goal now? To continue to grow the famous Geelong-Rankin name and create her own little piece of AFLW history.
And there’s a lot on the horizon for Georgie Rankin.
“We supported Geelong growing up, but because there wasn’t that opportunity there, it never really dawned on me to look towards playing footy”
But it all changed when the Gold Coast based Rankin decided she’d give footy a go, just 12 short months ago.
“Just last year I played my first football season alongside my basketball season,” Rankin said.
“I found myself falling in love with footy and the culture of it. By the end of that season, I thought ‘this is the path that I want to be part of’.”
Rankin took on her first season of footy with the Surfer’s Paradise Demons Women’s side in Queensland. But when Geelong began looking at her as a prospect for their newly licensed AFLW side, Rankin jumped at the opportunity to return to the place where it all began.
Geelong, where she was born, has always held a place in her heart.
Her move back home was a smooth transition and she now regards the city and footy club down the highway as a place she belongs.
“When you come back to your roots, it really does feel like home,” she said.
“Even the club, it’s very family oriented.”
This family club, which has seamlessly welcomed Rankin alongside her new teammates, upholds a strong past for the Rankin name, with her Great-Great-Grandfather and club legend Ted Rankin and his three sons, Doug, Bert and Cliff Rankin (Geelong’s 1925 Premiership Captain-Coach), all starring for the Cats in their time.
Although many outsiders may believe that the long and proud Rankin name would act as an extra expectation on the young player’s back, she’s taking it in her stride to balance the history, with her own endeavours in the Geelong Cats world.
“I see it as a great honour. I am really honoured that I have that history with the club.”
“Even though I’m carrying on the Rankin name, it’s a new path for women. You direct yourself in a new way.”
And as the Rankin name only strengthens her commitment to Geelong, her focus has shifted to the team and the collective goals set, to impress on the field and inspire off the field.
“It’s something that I’ve actually seen, the impact that women have coming into a men’s space,” she said.
“It is so raw, we’re all about learning and embracing people from different walks of life and starting this really strong movement.”
In addition to the emphasis placed on intensity and openness on field, Rankin attests that the whole operation behind-the-scenes keeps the women grounded in a time of immense expectation and anticipation.
“We take on the excitement that we are a new team coming into the women’s league, but it’s all managed really well,” Rankin stated.
“We have amazing support staff with our coaches and player welfare.”
And Rankin knows the AFLW is gaining momentum and credibility coming into its’ third season.
“For the sceptics, you need to look deeper at what this movement is creating, rather than stepping back and seeing the physical game in itself.”
For any footballer, it would be a heavy burden to uphold the expectations of such a famous family name.
But Georgie Rankin seems comfortable filling the shoes of her illustrious ancestors, all while creating her own history.
“It’s not something I feel a weight on my shoulders with. I’m just thriving on the opportunity I have to carry on the family name.”
The anticipation of seeing another Rankin on Kardinia Park, carrying on the legacy of her famous forefathers and adding her own chapter to the history of the Cats, has been generations in the making.