9 March 2021

If 18 of the past 52 weeks has proven us anything, it is that a lockdown will make you a prisoner of society. For most of us, an abundance in resources afforded to us through a capitalist system tested our resilience to deny ourselves like never before. Particularly that of our relationship with food, natures double ended sword. Too little and I starve, too much and my vital organs deteriorate.

For many of us, the lockdown experience delivered more than a few bowls of katsu wanton. It also exposed us to new forms of isolation and boredom. And as many of us were fortunate enough to spend it beside a loved one, friends or family, others were not. We are social creatures, and non-more so than Tropics star 6th man JJ Wanless.

For JJ, nothing satisfies him more than the connection to a social-centric aim whether as a teammate, a band member or colleague. And in one all mighty tug, that floor was ripped from beneath his Atticus tied feet. The Tropics small forward was about to face a challenge like no other and face it alone in a house boring 0-degree temperatures.

These factors would break the backs of many of us, the best of us.

But from within the most derelict rental house that Thomastown has ever chewed up and shit out, Wanless forged prosperity.

Weighing in over 100kgs at the beginning of lockdown, he would summon a new strength. If Pearman fits the bill as JJs closest friend, then Fanta has always run a close second. For 18 weeks, he would go without either. For 18 weeks he would bounce off nothing other than his 98 Gretsch Catalina, journeying on to shred 30kgs of weight off his body.

Tropics player-manager Bryce Miller recalls a feeling of concern about JJs rapid transformation.

“Wanless is a guy who was never really bothered by skinfolds and extra gym sessions, his chubbiness was always ‘more of me to love’ as he would put it”.

“..which is why I questioned his motivations, it was such a shock behavioural change, I guess I was protective over the unique nature that makes him what he is, a loving guy who doesn’t have time for insecurities in others or himself”.

But Miller was quick to add, most of JJs unique qualities were spared in the transformation, if not solidified.

“generally, I see it in a lot of players who might hit the gym in the off season, peoples ego’s inflate and the dynamic in the team tends to change in the aftermath. But not on this occasion, Wanless has not gone down that path, he’s still the same loyal person, still as supportive and team focused”.

Behind the scenes, his transformation has propelled the Tropic mantra into a kind of stratosphere that exhibits profound inspiration and positivity. Until JJ’s metamorphosis, a philosophical ceiling seemed to constantly suppress the team. His journey has blown it into pieces, offering 2021 an entirely new and open galaxy to explore.

Brott Migskiosvolta – TROPICS Media