By her own admission, Charlotte Caslick is a “girly girl”.
She loves shopping and she loves clothes – she also loves rugby AND is very good at it.
Caslick is one of the stars of the Australian Sevens team and at just 21-years-old she has experienced the full force of this fast running and hard hitting contact sport at the elite level for the past four years.
But rugby was not where her sporting tendencies lay early on. Despite growing up in a rugby environment where her Dad played league and both her older brothers play union, Caslick ran around playing hockey and touch football with a sprinkle of athletics thrown in the mix.
“I played touch since I was eight and I played hockey as well since I was five or six. I started to focus on touch when I was 13 or 14 so I wasn’t playing any more hockey or athletics after that really – I just played for school,” said Caslick.
Then at 17, rugby sevens grabbed her attention and she played her first competitive tournament at a school sports event.
“I played with Brooke Walker and Evania (Pelite) and a couple of other girls that I’d played touch with and they’re now (all) playing rugby too,” she said.
In fact, Caslick is surrounded by women with whom she played with or against as a youngster.
She grew up near Brisbane in Queensland, a state which seems to have bred an abundance of quality female rugby players in recent years – must be the water!
She can now count up to at least half a dozen of her Aussie Sevens teammates as fellow Queenslanders with a couple more who, while not born north of the border, have chosen to play their club rugby up that way.
“I think we’re lucky to have so many talented girls - Emilee, Evania, Brooke Walker in the team group - it’s quite rare to get that many girls that are as good as what they are. So obviously now we get Dominique du Toit and Shenae Ciesiolka (who) have come through from the young groups and they’re going very well. So I think they will just slowly keep bringing more and more in. But I think the more rugby they can get exposed to in Queensland the better,” said Caslick.
“They’ve (Queensland Rugby) put a lot of time into the girls (program) and I think they put a lot of emphasis on their women.”
As with most players of this generation, the Rio Olympics has proved to be a major catalyst in the growth of rugby sevens and in inspiring players to push through to the elite level.
“I think the Olympics were a massive draw card for me - once I heard about that I was obviously interested. Then after a touch football event that Emilee Cherry and Alicia Quirk were at as well, we all got letters in the mail from the ARU asking us to come to a rugby sevens camp,“ said Caslick.
Since making that decision, Charlotte has fitted a great deal into a relatively short time, representing Australia at the 2013 Youth Olympics in Sydney and at the Rugby Sevens World Cup that same year.
Last year she was nominated for the International Women’s Sevens Player of the Year award (her second consecutive nomination). At a gala event in London at the conclusion of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Caslick enjoyed an evening of glamour among rugby’s elite getting the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the icons of the game and while she did not win, she did get to catch up with some fellow Aussies.
“It was very exciting but I think all of my individual success or whatever you call it, I always put back to having a good team – I think we make each other look good!” said Caslick.
With Rio being the focus of recent years, life beyond August has not been a major consideration, but Caslick has admitted she eventually wants to study declaring a desire to work in rugby development in rural areas down the track.
“I’m hoping to start studying next year after Rio. My goal eventually is to make up a rugby clinic in rural parts of Australia - so I will try and do things down that pathway,” she said.
But for now, Caslick is enjoying a massive year which is the culmination of four years of hard work - the last two centrally located full-time at the team’s Narrabeen headquarters.
So when she needs to have a break from everything rugby, she fully admits that while she has no specific hobby, she does have a weakness for a wander around the shops.
“I love shopping – I’m a massive shopper. Most of my extra money goes on clothes. I’m quite a girly girl, so I like nice clothes,” she said.
It was a good thing then that Charlotte was chosen as one of the two Aussie Sevens squad members asked to participate in the media launch unveiling the Australian Olympic uniforms earlier this month.
Caslick may only be 21 but has definitely notched up a lot of game time and therefore experience as one of Australia’s key playmakers and she believes the key to the team’s success is their closeness off the field which translates to an instinctive understanding on it.
It is a close-knit team with most sharing living circumstances in one form or another.
Caslick lives with her partner, Aussie Men’s player Lewis Holland and two of her young teammates, Brooke Walker and Dominique Du Toit and is quite comfortable with her role as a mentor to the newcomers.
“I enjoy trying to help the young girls. I guess I’ve been in the group with Sharni and Shanno and Amy Turner since I was 17. I’ve also been involved with the younger girls back in Queensland. It is hard when the girls come and are 17 or 18 and move away from their families – and I guess I just know how they feel,“ said Caslick.
Last weekend Caslick and her team-mates welcomed Dom Du Toit as the newest member of the playing squad when she debuted on the World Series circuit in Atlanta. The squad went to the US with the sole intention of winning the title and extending its unbeaten run of the season so far.
And that is exactly how the weekend ended due in no small part to Caslick’s performance across the two days.
She was named Player of the Final and even made the Atlanta7s Dream Team with team-mates Emma Tonegato and Shannon Parry.
If the past four years have been a whirlwind of achievement for her, then the prospect of what’s to come is mouth-watering. There is the Commonwealth Games and another World Cup in 2018, another Olympics in 2020 and of course, the Women’s World Series each year which is expected to grow in both size and quality.
The exciting prospect for Australian Rugby is that Charlotte Caslick, having achieved so much already, is still young and that bodes very well for the future of the sport.