On this episode of ON THE WIRE our guest is Jake Edwards, former AFL footballer, founder of Outside The Locker Room (OTLR), soon to become author and clothing brand entrepreneur. Outside The Locker Room is an education and welfare program developed for local sporting clubs, schools and community groups.
The purpose of OTLR is to equip adolescent boys & girls and young adults, along with their parents, families and communities, with the information and resources to better enable them to tackle the increasing number of social and mental health issues in a productive and not destructive way.
Jake grew up with the pressure of expectation, the expectation that he would carry on the family tradition of playing at the highest level in the Australian Football League, just like his father Allan "Butch" Edwards, who played a total of 113 games with Richmond, Collingwood and Footscray in the 1970s and 1980s. His grandfather Arthur Edwards who played 120 games and premiership player for Footscray in the 1950s and his great-grandfather Frank Aked, Sr. who played 116 games for Footscray between 1925 and 1932. His cousin Shane O'Bree also played at the highest level playing 246 games with Collingwood and Brisbane Lions.
At the age 17 the expectation become reality, with Jake being drafted by Carlton pick 36 overall in the 2005 draft. He set out on the journey of fulfilling the expectation of carrying on the family tradition, a tradition that only 3 other families have achieved, that of having 4 generations to play at the highest level.
The weight of the family history drove Jake to prove himself on his own merit. Jake set a pass mark of 100 games, anything less would be a fail. He didn't gain senior selection in his first 2 seasons, but in round 1 of the 2008 season he secured his first senior game against Richmond. The 2008 season would yield another 4 games raising his total to 5 games. By the end of the 2009 season Jake had not added to that total and was delisted.
During Jake's career he was diagnosed with depression, this had an impact on performance and his energy. It was here that the seed was sown for his future work. The lack of education and support available was where the idea for Outside The Locker Room was born. But it wasn't until he was transitioning away from the AFL that Jake describes his life turned into a "Cyclone" of financial difficulty, failed relationships, alcohol abuse and drug abuse. This period resulted in a fail suicide attempt.
Jake's story is testament that it can be perceived from the outside that an individual has everything that they ever dreamed of, meanwhile their life can be spiraling perilously out of control. It also shows that you can come back from the brink. I am fortunate to work along side Jake and witness what an outstanding individual he really is and what fantastic work he is currently doing.
If you are struggling with issues of depression, anxiety or suicidal thought, or if this episode triggers those thoughts, please reach out to someone, or a professional service like
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