Jed Walter was just five-years-old when the SUNS entered the AFL competition in 2011.
Now the highly touted Palm Beach Currumbin product has been drafted at No.3 to begin his AFL career on the Gold Coast.
“It’s unreal to be a SUNS player, it’s been my dream since I was young, for it to finally happen is amazing,” he said.
“Once I moved to the Gold Coast and joined the football club here, I fell in love with the game.
“Since I played under 9s to now - my 18th year - I’ve always loved the game and enjoyed playing with my mates.
“It will be surreal, I was a nine-year-old kid playing at Palmy and looking up to the AFL players, now I’m at this level, I’ll be looking to give back to the younger boys at the club, I’ve already done a bit of coaching for them.”
Walter alongside fellow Gold Coast draftees Ethan Read, Jake Rogers and Will Graham represents the very reason the SUNS entered the competition.
The 195cm key forward’s earliest footy memories are playing alongside good mate Will and Ethan in the Gold Coast under 9s competition.
The group of exciting youngsters have grown up together on the glitter strip, developing their games through the pathway system.
“Will and I met in under 9s, we went to school together and played school footy as well,” Walter said.
“I remember playing with Ethan and Will in under 9s, I also did surf lifesaving with Will at the same club, we got a great connection through footy and the surf club and obviously we played against Jake at Broadbeach. We met through the academy as well.
“I remember Ethan and Will specifically, through playing at Palmy – playing in the under 12s and 14s grand finals together. Will and I also debuted in seniors together.
“I met Ethan when we were really little tackers, he’s always been the larrikin and still is, it’s weird, because I basically feel like I live with them I’ve spent so much time together.”
Walter has come through the SUNS Academy and has thrived playing for Palm Beach.
He is quick to praise Palm Beach for his rapid ascension into the AFL.
“I got invited to join the SUNS Academy and the trials when I was 12, I was tall and lanky then, bit like a baby giraffe,” he said.
“It’s got more and more serious through the pathway as its gone on.
“Palm Beach has been really great for my development. I was pretty new to the game compared to others, I didn’t do Auskick or anything like that, so I started a bit late, but the coaches were really good.
“It was more about fun than trying to make it at that age, it’s everyone’s dream when you are a little boy, but back then, it is much more about having fun with your mates.
“I was grateful to play for Palmy, they gave me an opportunity to play at a senior level at a really young age which has really helped my development, playing against bigger bodies.”
Walter’s career highlight was spearheading the Allies to their first ever national under 18 title.
The 195cm forward was immense kicking 11 goals across the tournament.
“It was pretty special to be the first Allied team to ever win the national champs and to do it undefeated with those boys, was a great effort. Really exciting, a great memory to look back on.”
Now he is determined to forge new memories at the SUNS.
“My goals for the year, trying to get my body as fit as I possibly can, I want to earn the respect of my teammates and then get stuck into work.”