Ava Walters can see her pathway forward.
At just 17, her rugby league career is in its infancy.
She has only played one season, first representing the Norths Devils in the four-week Harvey Norman Under 19 Girls competition last year and then turning out for Valleys Diehards for the rest of 2022.
But the daughter of Queensland Maroons great Kevin Walters has high hopes for where the game can take her.
With Norths now boasting their own BMD Premiership team for the first time, Walters said she had a near-daily reminder of where she could be if she continued to progress through the ranks of the game.
“It’s nice that we train on the same night as them,” Walters said of the crossover between the Devils’ Under 19s and BMD Premiership squads.
“We’ve had an opposed session against them… it’s awesome to see how fast it is, how hard they run… it’s inspiring to see. That’s what I want to be when I’m older.”
A former touch football player, the young fullback and centre will first focus on this year and on continuing to improve her game.
She has her eyes set on making the Metropolitan East Schoolgirls team but said 2023 was mostly a year to develop her skills.
In the long-term, Walters wants to play in the BMD Premiership and eventually the NRLW.
And like her dad, uncle Kerrod and brother Billy before her, she hopes to one day wear the Brisbane Broncos jersey.
“I definitely want to try to play NRLW, if I can,” Walters said.
“That’s the goal. I’ll try for BMD and wait until I get a chance.
“Broncos is the dream. Dad would be beside himself if I went anywhere else, I think.”
As she chases these goals and prepares to make her way through the pathways that lie ahead, Walters knows she has some of the best support any young athlete could hope for.
While Kevin was hesitant to let her play rugby league, she said he was now at every single game and always had a wise word or two to share.
“I started off playing touch when I was about 13,” Walters said.
“I always wanted to play league but it was a 'no' from dad for a while. I played rugby sevens for a year, because I missed the sign-on for league, and then I started playing last year.
“It was my first year of footy. I played here at Norths and then I went to Valleys. Now we’re back here again.
“Dad always comes out and watches my games so he’s always got something to say. So does my mum. But even just listening to what Dad tells my brothers, I pick that up and take that on board too.
“Dad always tells me to show and go… he tells me eyes-up footy, run hard. It’s basic stuff but it’s always important and you have to remember those things.
“Sometimes you forget it out on the field and those little things help when you’re playing out there so you have to make sure you’re doing them.”
Heavy lifter - Harry Walters
As well as having Billy at the Broncos – under the direct tutelage of Kevin – Walters also has three other brothers playing the game around Brisbane.
Jack and Jett are both at Wests Brisbane Panthers, while Harry is also at Norths, in the Hastings Deering Colts team.
It’s no surprise to anyone that for Walters and her brothers, rugby league has always been a major part of their lives.
And it’s no surprise they’re all trying to follow in the footsteps of their dad and uncles.
“I just grew up watching it,” Walters said.
“Every weekend I’d be out at Wests watching my brothers play and then obviously with Dad at the Broncos, I’d be at Suncorp basically every Friday. I just watched it my whole life.
“My first season, I loved it. It was pretty good. I love running and I love getting into some girls sometimes, that’s fun.”
The Harvey Norman Under 19 Girls 2023 season will kick off next weekend, with Norths opening their campaign against the Brisbane Tigers at Bishop Park on Saturday, February 18, from 3.40pm.
The Devils will also host Wynnum Manly Seagulls in their final trial at Bishop Park this Saturday, February 11, from 4.10pm.