BY NICK GALEA
The saying “you make your own luck in this world” is hard hitting but nonetheless a strong message for one to heed to.
It requires persistence to keep going and achieve what you want no matter the challenges.
The word “persistence” is also a very fitting way to describe Coburg’s Jesse Corigliano’s football career.
Known by “Rigga” to his teammates at the Coburg Football Club, Corigliano is a story of persistence on how making your own luck and working hard can pay off in the long run.
Born and raised in Melbourne, Corigliano’s family made the decision to move to Cairns when he was seven years old. There he played his junior football with the Manunda Hawks from the under 8s to under 12s.
The Corigliano family eventually returned to Melbourne in 2010 where he then represented Strathmore in the under 14s before he spent a year with the Calder Cannons in the then TAC Cup. Unfortunately Corigliano was overlooked for the 2013 draft but it did not deter him as he undertook a preseason with the Coburg Football Club where he ultimately secured the final spot on the clubs list.
In the first two years of his Coburg career, Corigliano lined up most weeks for Strathmore (sometimes in the Thirds) in the Essendon District Football League including stints in the Victorian Development League where he refined his game.
‘I played mostly development football, it was pretty tough, I can empathise with the guys that train here and then have to go back to local football on the weekend after being at the Club all week,’ Corigliano said.
‘It’s a tough situation, it’s good to have a local affiliate but it’s not the easiest thing to train with a bunch of guys and then not play with them on the weekend.’
After a two years playing local football for Strathmore in the EDFL, Corigliano came of age and was awarded the Eric Lines Medal (Development League Best and Fairest) in 2016 after a promising 13 games.
Corigliano took confidence from his success in the Development League playing 15 senior games for Coburg in the 2017 VFL season before consolidating a spot in the best 22 the following year playing every game.
‘It was good having the development league, it was the link between seniors and local football but now it’s gone,’ he said.
‘It’s good going back to local footy and play against senior bodies that don’t get a game here but the development league was good because you’d play in the same system that the senior played.’
Now in his sixth year with Coburg, Corigliano has put together his most consistent season with the Club but believes that he still has a way to go and that there is more improvement in his game.
‘I think I’m still learning and getting better as a player, I think I have been a lot more consistent this year then my previous seasons.’
‘Last year I had some really good games and some really poor games whereas this year I’ve been able to string together good consistent footy….. I want to continue to get better and play at the highest level I can for as long as I can.’
Such is his form this year; “Rigga” has also been able display his old forwards craft in the development league to get on the scoreboard a couple of times this season.
‘It’s been nice to kick a few goals; I think I’ve kicked one goal for Coburg before this year so it has been nice to get on the scoreboard,’ he said.
A new addition to the Clubs leadership group this year, Corigliano shares the vice captaincy position with Luke Bunker who is in his third year at Coburg. “Rigga” knew that the opportunity came with huge responsibility but feels he is up to the task and hopes to continue to earn the playing groups respect.
‘I maybe was seen as a leader by some of the other younger players but I never saw myself as a leader until this year, I don’t think it came with the title I just don’t think I was ready or mature enough to be a leader,’ Corigliano said.
‘Now I suppose being vice captain it’s become a real passion of mine, I’m just as passionate about being a good leader as well as being a good football player.’
‘I think I’ve done a reasonable job thus far; I have really enjoyed the position and I want to continue getting better at it. I’m starting to understand speaking to players that everyone’s different, everyone responds in different ways.’
‘I’m learning as much as I can and really enjoying it.’
Despite the rocky start to the season Corigliano feels that the relationships and belief within the four walls at Piranha Park are as strong as ever and that everyone has bought into its values.
‘It definitely is, especially now it’s a really positive environment. People go and look at the stats and such but there are so many things we value here like playing your role,’ Corigliano said.
‘I think our coach “Patch” (Leigh Adams) is really clear in his message that you come in and play your role and that’s how you’ll play games for the senior side.’
‘It’s not about the individual game, it’s about the team game and having a selfless attitude and I think that’s why we have shown improvement this year because everyone is and “Patch” has instilled that attitude into a lot of the guys.’
‘It’s good going out there each week knowing that the guy you’re playing next too is going to put his body on the line and do the team thing. It has been enjoyable playing for Coburg this year for sure.’
Outside of football Corigliano attended La Trobe University in Bundoora studying a course in exercise science the past three years before graduated in December last summer. Currently he is working in Moonee Ponds as a physio for his first full time job.
‘After I finished I didn’t know what to do, wasn’t sure there was much work around so then I did a Masters in Physiotherapy which I completed in December,’ Corigliano said.
Such is his curiosity in his chosen field he has taken a keen interest in the roles the club physios undertake each and every week.
‘Being around sport you pick up and learn things that people who aren’t around sport wouldn’t know,’ he said.
‘Speaking with Maddie, Nami and the other physios here it has been awesome to ask them questions and see what is going on.’
‘That’s such a good thing about the Coburg Football Club whether it is players, coaches or staff, I feel like everyone is really easy to talk to and get along with. It’s a great place to be.’
A keen follower of basketball, Corigliano is a huge Oklahoma City Thunder fan and especially that of Russell Westbrook. Corigliano was able to fulfil his dream of seeing the Thunder play when he went to the United States last December with his girlfriend.
‘It was awesome, I have always wanted to go to the States and watch basketball and I got to do that. I watched four or five games, it didn’t matter how much it cost I was always going to sit courtside at an Oklahoma City game,’ he said.
‘It was good to see Russell Westbrook up in person. I remember sitting in the stands and I was wearing one of his high school guernsey, I made a friends with a couple of the locals and they said “Look this guy has got your high school guernsey on, give him a high five”!’
‘It was an awesome experience and something I definitely won’t forget soon. I enjoy my basketball a lot.’
The earliest memory the Hawthorn Hawks supporter can recall is kicking the ball with his father as a child.
‘I remember him bombing the ball up in the air and him expecting for me to mark the footy. Playing “Markers Up” at school and Auskick was also good fun,
Jesse Corigliano has come a long way from being that small child especially these past five years. From being over looked in the draft to being the last player selected on the Coburg VFL list in 2014, he is now vice captain of the Club. There have been challenges along the way but long kicking defender is certainly up for the fight as he continues to aim for higher honours in his football career.