Shane Nelson has suffered more setbacks in his fledgling career than many players would experience in a decade.
After the disappointment of being overlooked in the AFL draft in 2011, Nelson went back to West Perth and had a standout season in the WAFL, finishing second in _The West Australian's _Rising Star award and earning an invitation to the State draft screening.
But despite his impressive year, only West Coast expressed interest and, once again, he was left on the shelf.
While being overlooked twice would cause a lot of young men to lose faith, Nelson used the summer to work on his perceived weaknesses, work which paid off through an outstanding pre-season.
Making his story of determination even more remarkable is the fact the 19-year-old has had to deal with the death of his father after a cardiac arrest and one of his best friends to a motorcycle accident, both within the past two years.
"It helped me grow up a lot and know that even though I didn't get drafted there's more to life than footy," he said.
"Losing my dad, I could have easily dropped my head and given up, but he wouldn't have wanted that.
"He wouldn't want me to give up on footy, so making it to the top level is still the main goal."
Nelson has had to forget about the bigger picture for the time being and instead focus on what he can control.
"I've got my goals written down on a piece of paper about what I want to achieve during the year - start the first six or seven games strong, carry that through to the middle of the year and then reassess," he said.
Falcons coach Bill Monaghan says he has no doubt there is a bright future ahead for his young charge, labelling him one of the toughest, most resilient teenagers he has come across in football.
He highlighted Nelson's best-on-ground display against Swan Districts last year only a day after his father's funeral.
"I truly believe that's a big tick for him to be able to work through some of the issues that he's had, and they've been pretty big issues in his life, and still front up to training and be really positive," Monaghan said.
"Like with everything, you've got to see the positive side of it, and his attitude and commitment to training has been outstanding.
"What we've got here is a ripper young bloke who can really play.
"All we can do is continue to support him and expose him and I'm sure with the weight of numbers someone will take a punt on him.
"At the end of the day, when he gets to where he wants to be with his football it will be a proud moment for everyone involved."Losing my dad, I could have easily dropped my head and given up." *Shane Nelson *
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