'Prickly pear' to Super Mum - the De Angelis' journey
Southern Saints star Gaby De Angelis and Mum Lorel share their heartfelt family journey in celebration of Mother's Day.
Mother’s Day is a special day for Gaby De Angelis and her family - in fact, her Mum Lorel admits that she never thought she’d be celebrating this occasion.
"To celebrate [Mother’s Day] again this year is a special delight', she noted, 'I knew that I wanted children, and [I knew that] it was going to be tricky."
From a young age, Lorel faced many trials and tribulations - a self proclaimed ‘prickly pear’,
"There had been challenges, losses, disappointments and dysfunctional relationships,' Lorel confessed, 'I was very used to doing things on my own but that yearning for children was still there."
Luckily for the Southern Saints, Lorel followed that yearning - and after overcoming every challenge in her way, raised Gaby and twin sister Francesca to be the strong and powerful women they are today.
"They were so different [when they were born] and yet had so much in common, that is still the case today," Lorel said.
Gaby spoke to sister Francesca when reflecting on all Lorel had taught them, and the first two words she said to Gaby were ‘resilience and perspective’.
Lorel (left) with Gaby (middle) and Francesca (right)
"I think it speaks to her strength and character", Gaby added;
"She constantly reminds me through her actions and words that our lives are what we make them. We are the only ones who can go out and make things happen for ourselves. She has in no way pretended that this is an easy task, but rather instilled a belief in my sister and I that although there will be challenges and mountains to move, if you work hard and care enough about the end result, anything is possible."
And Lorel really does prove that anything is possible.
"Meet someone by the age of 38 or go alone,' she decided, ‘I signed up for classes, went to dances and hosted dinner parties. I met a lot of people but 38 came and I was still single."
That’s when she decided to conceive through a donor program - a decision that has lead her to now, celebrating Mother’s Day and watching Gaby play the sport that she loves most;
"It was not easy, but I was on a mission and I wanted to do it right,"
Lorel opened up about the trials and tribulations of her venture - and the same strength that Gaby adores was evident;
"I worked full time and part-time jobs, bought a little house and did some renovating. Did my research, looked at my options and started the journey to becoming a mum. It was a long and difficult journey, but I only ever focussed on the next step for as long as it took and on my 40th birthday I was pregnant with twins. I was especially pleased to be having twins because they would have each other as well as me and even if that meant they would team up against me that was ok, I wanted them to have someone on their side and someone to share the journey with, someone that would understand. And they do."
Lorel’s persistence and strong-will is inspiring to all, especially Gaby.
"The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about my Mum is her strength and her courage."
Gaby expressed her gratitude for the lessons her Mum has shared - always encouraging her to dream big and supporting her extra curricular ventures.
"This gave her the practically impossible task of getting us to and from school, basketball, my footy and Fran’s hockey - she never gave up and continued to remind us all the while, that once we had committed to something we had to show up and work hard."
Gaby also admitted that she sometimes takes for granted how special our relationships with our Mum’s are, expressing that ‘she knows [her] better than anyone else in the world.’
"I would not be the person I am today without the lessons she has taught me, the way she leads by example and provides constant and unwavering support," she admitted.
After recognising Gaby’s love for football, Lorel committed to taking Gaby and Francesca to Auskick every weekend, counting to provide support and encouragement as Gaby ventured onto the boys team up until under 12’s.
Back then - with no AFLW in sight - Gaby thought her football career was over.
A few phone calls and a bit of research from super-Mum Lorel saved the day for her, though, as she found a local girls team and signed Gaby up straight away.
"I would not still be playing football if it weren’t for my mum - my life would be much less fulfilling because of it,' Gaby expressed,
'Sport has been an outlet for me throughout my whole life and it was something that my Mum and I fought to continue doing through difficult times."
Lorel was more than happy to facilitate her girls’ dreams - with sport providing them with, in her words, their ‘extended family’.
"When the girls started school we also started our sporting journey. I say we because football teams and basketball teams were our extended family."
Since attending Auskick at Donvale Football Club seventeen years ago, Gaby and Lorel have walked into a myriad of clubs and clinics - bringing their excitement, trepidation and high-hopes with them. The last thing it has been, though, is easy.
‘’To see her still playing is amazing,’ Lorel admitted, ‘there was a time at the end of primary school when we were not sure she would ever play sport again. We worked hard at getting her well enough to get back on the field - I knew with certainty that we had to do all we could, because if you look at her face closely she is at her most happiest out on that field."
Gaby celebrates a goal with teammate Lucy Burke
We don’t have to second guess a word of Lorel’s sentiment, with Gaby’s joy more-than-evident as she takes to the field each week.
"I always chose to play sport,’ Gaby began, ‘but my Mum’s continued commitment to making sure this could be a reality reminded me that all she really cared about - and all I should care about - is ensuring I do whatever makes me happy."
Aside from footy, Gaby finds happiness in movies and television shows - a love shared by her Mum.
"You can often find us on the couch watching a film," Gaby said.
Lorel is also an avid walker - I suppose, then, that she would not be as phased as I am about the walk from the food truck to the grandstand at Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval.
"Although she has been halted by a recent ankle injury, I look forward to resuming our walks with my dog Judey [when she’s better]," Gaby expressed.
So apart from their films and their walks - how much do Gaby and Lorel have in common? Gaby responds;
"Even though I look very much like her, my Mum and I are very different people."
Lorel took to dancing and swimming rather than footy, and although Gaby ‘rates [herself] pretty highly’ on the dance floor, she admits that she has ‘never quite mastered’ the sports that Lorel enjoys.
"Sometimes I wish I was more like her. I look up to her bravery and courage, and at times where I feel unsure or uncertain I know I can look to her for guidance, advice, and strength," Gaby said.
Funnily enough, Gaby is admired for her bravery and courage on field every week - backing in her teammates and backing in herself. It is a privilege to have Gaby, Lorel and Francesca in our Southern Saints extended family.
"It had taken some time and soul searching for me to realise just how much I valued the idea of family,’ Lorel admitted, ‘not the nuclear version but the broader concept of people coming together in whatever way is available and bonding; working together, caring for each other, loving and supporting."
And that is exactly what we want to celebrate this Mother’s Day.
So, how will Lorel be spending her time on Sunday?
"This year I will be at the footy. I’m hoping that Francesca will be with me and we will be doing what we have done so many times before - watching Gab have the time of her life."
Gaby speaks of her Mum with immense gratitude for her Mum’s presence - not just on Mother’s Day, but every day;
"The amount of support I feel from my mum is tremendous. I can feel in my bones that she is behind me 100%."
"Her commitment to coming to my games every week is a reminder that I always have her to turn to for support, encouragement or a motivational pre-game speech.’"
And, despite telling me that they weren’t too similar - Gaby loves to give out some support and encouragement of her own;
"This mother’s day I would like to thank all mother’s for their strength, their care, and their love. It can’t be easy bringing people up in this world and knowing if the decisions you’ve made are the right ones, but looking around at my teammates and friends I think that they have done a pretty good job and have raised a group of talented, hardworking and resilient young women.’"
"To my mum, I’d just like to say thank you for being my source of strength, you keep me moving forward every single day. Happy Mother’s Day - I’ll see you at the end of the game!"