Anthony Morabito is in his final months of a Bachelor of Commerce (Management) degree, but it’s taken him a little longer than most students to get here – a cool seven years – as the 25-year-old has also balanced student life with a professional football career, having been drafted at pick four by the Fremantle Dockers in 2009.
He missed only one game in 2010 and was hailed by many as Freo’s next superstar, but the powerful midfielder’s career would soon become ravaged by injury, including three knee reconstructions. In 2017, after seven years with Fremantle, Morabito decided to make a fresh transition to the WAFL with new club, Claremont.
While it isn’t the career trajectory many anticipated for Morabito, he remains philosophical, saying the change of pace has given him the opportunity to focus on completing his studies.
“It wasn’t always easy, but you do learn to deal with difficult situations, which are often beyond your control, as you go through them,” says Morabito on his stymied AFL potential.
“Not many people get the opportunity to find a passion and live it out, so it has been a really enjoyable ride. Finishing up at Fremantle last year was tough, but that’s not dissimilar to any job out there where people are truly passionate and have to go through a transition. I have really fond memories and am really grateful for my time at Fremantle.”
Morabito says the unwavering support of his family, friends and partner helped him to overcome the challenges he faced throughout his sporting career, but he also stresses that going to university has shaped him as more than a football player.
“When football has been challenging, I’ve been able to put my energy and focus into other things,” he says.
“For me, it was about being able to implement all the things I’ve learned – keeping balanced, having that forward focus on my studies, trying to find adequate experience and really trying to build a career that wasn’t defined by football.”
Excelling in accounting and similar subjects at high school, Morabito enrolled in a Bachelor of Commerce at Curtin in 2009, the same year he was drafted by the Fremantle Dockers. Curtin’s Elite Athlete Program, plus the University’s flexible study options, such as the ability to access units online, enabled him to stay on top of his work.
“The Elite Athlete Program at Curtin is first class. I’ve been a part of the program for eight years and it’s been amazing for me. The people involved in the program have been accommodating, and have really made it a lot easier for elite athletes, who are typically time poor, to complete their studies.”
Morabito is currently completing his Business Capstone unit, which sees groups of students compete against one another in running a simulated company.
“I’ve really enjoyed the relationships I’ve built with people in the class,” he says of the unit. “It’s been challenging but also rewarding, and has really helped me implement some of the skills I’ve learned throughout my degree.”
The soon-to-be management graduate says life as a full-time student shares similarities to that of a professional athlete.
“As an athlete, your time and energy is extremely focused – every day there are clear, concise goals that you have to achieve. Student life is quite similar; if you don’t put in the hard work, you won’t reach your goals and ultimately won’t obtain your desired results,” he says.
“The need to be self-managed, whether that’s as an athlete or a student, is also important, so that you’re able to get the best out of yourself on a daily basis.”
Morabito is looking forward to putting his studies into practice when he graduates in February 2018, and is already gaining experience in the corporate world part-time. It seems his balancing act won’t be over any time soon, as he’s quietly confident he’ll continue to be a towering presence on the footy field for seasons to come.
“Football still plays a large role in my life. I really enjoy the game and love being involved in any capacity. Football clubs are great resources and you meet some fantastic people, so having the ability to couple that with my studies has given me balance and helped me to really enjoy my football this year.”