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From ap­pren­tice elec­tri­cian in Perth to the AFL Player’s As­so­ci­a­tion best first-year player, Tim Kelly’s life has trans­formed in the past year. But off the field, writes Abbey King, his part­ner Caitlin Miller has emerged as a star mum rais­ing three chil­dren on the other side of Aus­tralia

AS she seam­lessly feeds one of their in­fant twin sons on one side of her body, while hold­ing the other, and he takes their tod­dler son for a quick change in the next room, it be­comes im­me­di­ately ev­i­dent young par­ents Caitlin Miller and Tim Kelly are no strangers to the con­cept of multi-task­ing.

Mum and dad to 21⁄2-year-old Ty­keem and eight-month-old twins Tariq and Trey, the cou­ple, both 24, have had a whirl­wind year; one which has seen them move 3000km from Perth to Victoria, and al­most dou­ble their fam­ily in size.

Caitlin is quite hum­ble about be­liev­ing in Tim’s fu­ture — and theirs — when the AFL ex­perts didn’t.

In his de­but year, Tim has emerged as a bonafide star for the Gee­long Cats, while Caitlin’s com­mit­ment to shar­ing her day-to-day re­al­ity of rais­ing three kids un­der the age of three has gained her a grow­ing In­sta­gram fol­low­ing.

And though the year has brought with it many pos­i­tives, it has not come with­out some heart­break and hard work for the West Aus­tralian cou­ple.

Tim was over­looked in five na­tional AFL drafts. For most, any one of those knock­backs could eas­ily have ended his AFL dreams.

But Tim and Caitlin never gave up. Even when they be­came young par­ents.

Tim’s for­tunes changed in Novem­ber last year when he was se­lected by Gee­long with the club’s sec­ond pick, 24th over­all, in the 2017 draft.

He was 23 and fi­ancee Caitlin was due to give birth to the twins in the next month.

“It def­i­nitely was mixed emo­tions; ul­ti­mately I was very ex­cited, it was an ab­so­lute dream come true,” Tim re­calls.

“I thought, ‘This is it, I’m on my way now, I’m fi­nally get­ting my op­por­tu­nity’.

“But at the back of my head I’m go­ing, ‘We have no fam­ily on that side of the coun­try’, and there was the fact that Caitlin could have given birth to the twins at any given time.”

Caitlin ad­mits while she was ec­static for her part­ner and rel­ished see­ing him picked, she quickly be­gan to think log­i­cally about the situation their young fam­ily was about to find them­selves in. “It was scary,” she says. “I didn’t even know where Gee­long was, I had never even been to Mel­bourne in my whole life.

“I se­ri­ously looked up and said, ‘Where’s that? Where are we go­ing?’,” she laughs.

With Tim be­gin­ning train­ing at the club al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter the draft, he was for­tu­nate to be home in Perth for the Christ­mas break and was present to see Caitlin give birth to the twins on De­cem­ber 30.

“We were lucky he was back home in time to see the birth of the twins, but they were just eight days old when he left again to come back here,” Caitlin said.

Liv­ing on op­po­site sides of the coun­try, once the twins were four weeks old, the cou­ple found the dis­tance had be­come too much.

Tim called Caitlin to say he was not cop­ing with­out them.

The thought of liv­ing in a town where she knew no one was ter­ri­fy­ing for Caitlin, but she knew they had to be with Tim and packed the kids on to a plane to make the big move.

Around the time of the move, the cou­ple were also given an autism di­ag­no­sis for their el­dest, Ty­keem.

“It was so hard, it still is, hav­ing ab­so­lutely no fam­ily and no friends here; whereas back home we had ev­ery­one within one sub­urb and hav­ing that sup­port was price­less,” Caitlin ex­plains.

“We lived with my fam­ily be­fore we moved out here, we’d never lived by our­selves be­fore and now we had Ty­keem and the twins.”

Tim made his de­but for Gee­long in the club’s nar­row win against Mel­bourne at the MCG in the open­ing round of the 2018 sea­son.

He played ev­ery game since, se­cur­ing his po­si­tion as one of the team’s dom­i­nant play­ers along­side greats such as Pa­trick Danger­field, Joel Selwood and Gary Ablett Jr.

He says, while it’s been hard to be so far from fam­ily, the abil­ity to play AFL full-time at Gee­long has given him the chance not only to re­alise his play­ing po­ten­tial, but also to en­joy more time at home with Caitlin and the boys.

When in Perth, Tim, who started at Palmyra Ju­nior Foot­ball Club, was work­ing full-time as an elec­tri­cal ap­pren­tice and most of his spare time was taken up by foot­ball com­mit­ments.

“I think it would have been very hard if I was still play­ing WAFL footy, be­cause I’d still be jug­gling a full-time job as well as part-time footy and fam­ily as well,” he says.

“So for me be­ing able to fo­cus full-time on footy, phys­i­cally I’ve found I’ve be­come a lot more than I was last year or ever be­fore.

“The fact that Caitlin doesn’t re­ally have that much sup­port and needs help with the boys, it’s been great that I’m able to be home and ob­vi­ously footy has gone re­ally well.”

Caitlin ad­mits if it wasn’t for the sup­port Tim gives her from the mo­ment he walks in

Even af­ter a game he’s just straight into dad-mode, and will do any­thing to make (the kids) happy.


the door, she’s not quite sure how she would be able to cope.

Cait­lyn says no mat­ter how hard her day has been, see­ing Tim with the kids is of­ten enough to put a smile on her face.

“I’m lucky that Tim’s re­ally help­ful, he lit­er­ally does not stop,” she beams. “He gets home and is straight into dad-mode; bathing and clean­ing and mak­ing din­ners.

“He’s knows what it’s been like for me all day and will just go non-stop to help out, he’s just a ma­chine.”

While the cou­ple en­joy lots of vis­its from fam­ily and friends in Perth, Caitlin says it’s been hard to meet other lo­cal peo­ple and fa­mil­iarise her­self with her new city, and hav­ing the three young kids at home leaves her lim­ited time to ven­ture out of the house.

“To get all three kids in the car is a bit of an ef­fort but once we’re out we have fun, it’s just about push­ing our­selves to get there,” she says.

“We go to Wool­worths and I go down ev­ery, sin­gle, aisle,” she laughs.

While Tim has his footy, Caitlin has been able to find her own per­sonal out­let. Some­thing she likes to do for her­self and make time for.

Last year, she set up an In­sta­gram ac­count — @caitlin­miller — to keep fam­ily and friends up­dated on her preg­nancy with the twins, but says once she started post­ing preg­nancy photos, she be­gan to at­tract more and more fol­low­ers.

“It kind of blew up — ev­ery­one was amazed at how big I was — I was huge,” she says.

Af­ter re­al­is­ing peo­ple were gen­uinely in­ter­ested in her story and ad­vice, and the fact she en­joyed shar­ing it, she be­gan to post more of­ten about the truths and re­al­i­ties of preg­nancy and moth­er­hood.

“I speak to peo­ple all around the world. It’s kind of crazy,” she says.

“Peo­ple get in con­tact and say, ‘How do you do it?’ and I say, ‘You don’t re­ally have a choice you just do it, they’re your chil­dren and that’s why you have them’.

“I’m quite open about every­thing, like with my breast­feed­ing. There’s lots of women who can’t bring them­selves to do it in pub­lic, whereas I’m like, ‘Just do it, it’s nat­u­ral’.

“I love help­ing them.”

Caitlin has also learnt to deal with the dark side of so­cial me­dia. She has caught peo­ple, on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions, steal­ing her images and pass­ing them off as their own, and has also been on the re­ceiv­ing end of in­ap­pro­pri­ate mes­sages.

But she says she likes to take the good with the bad and has re­alised that shar­ing her story is a great way to con­nect with oth­ers and keep her sane.

“It’s al­most like a job now, it’s some­thing for me to do and keeps me busy,” she ad­mits.

The cou­ple have been through a lot al­ready in their seven years to­gether, but say they knew from the start were des­tined to be to­gether and couldn’t imag­ine life any other way.

Hav­ing first met on Face­book as 17-year-olds through mu­tual friends, what started out as a fun on­line flir­ta­tion, quickly blos­somed into a life-chang­ing, lov­ing re­la­tion­ship.

“One day, I just wished him a happy birth­day — I slid into his in­box,” Caitlin re­calls, as they both burst into laugh­ter. “We talked for a few months be­fore I gave him my num­ber, then we met up and I haven’t been able to get away since.”

The pair have given each of their chil­dren names start­ing with “T”, a Kelly fam­ily tra­di­tion.

Tim was named af­ter his dad, Ti­mothy Sr and has four younger brothers Troy, Terence, Tyson and Thomas. Caitlin says she would have loved to have a daugh­ter to give her a “C” name to start a tra­di­tion of their own, but for now the cou­ple have enough chil­dren.

“We are done,” she laughs. “I think af­ter you have twins, it’s harder to imag­ine go­ing again. The Kellys are go­ing to start to run out of ‘T’ names which is why we kind of came up with some of our own. I’m Caitlin and I’ve met that many Caitlins in my life, I like the idea of giv­ing my chil­dren unique names.”

With the chal­lenge of their big move now be­hind them, the cou­ple are en­joy­ing watch­ing their boys grow older and bond as brothers. Caitlin says the twins are al­ready start­ing to show glimpses of their own in­di­vid­ual per­son­al­i­ties.

“They’re teething at the mo­ment, which isn’t the best, but they’re al­ways star­ing at one another and play­ing,” she ex­plains.

“But I’d have to say Tariq’s the bully,” she says point­ing to her twins play­ing on the floor.

Tim played his first AFL fi­nal last week­end when Mel­bourne beat the Cats.

He says he would not have made it through the whole sea­son if it wasn’t for the sup­port and de­vo­tion Caitlin has shown him.

“This year was re­ally tough, but Caitlin did make it re­ally easy for me to just fo­cus on what I needed to do,” Tim says.

“Ob­vi­ously with Caitlin’s sup­port and help from the boys and ev­ery­one back home push­ing me and push­ing me and then be­ing so self-driven to get in and get to know ev­ery­one and train as hard as I could, it’s put me in a good po­si­tion.

“It’s re­ally ex­cit­ing. I def­i­nitely think suc­cess is head­ing our way.”

With Tim’s im­pres­sive sea­son be­hind him, and the award sea­son ramp­ing up, Caitlin and Tim have found them­selves on the guest list at a num­ber of events over the com­ing weeks, even a chance for a Brown­low Medal in­vite.

Caitlin says while the idea of it all sounds glam­orous, find­ing time to pre­pare is prov­ing more dif­fi­cult.

“It’s all new to me re­ally,” Caitlin ad­mits.“I’m still not too sure where to go shop­ping or know any hair stylists or any­thing like that and it’s hard to get out with the boys.

“I don’t re­ally see my­self like some of the other girls, I don’t have a model fig­ure, I’ve got a mum bod, and try­ing to find some­thing I look half-de­cent in is go­ing to be quite hard.

“It’s easy for the boys, they just chuck a suit on,” she laughs.

“I can’t re­ally go shop­ping in Mel­bourne, when I can’t even get to Wool­worths.”

PERTHNOW.COM.AU SUN­DAY, SEPTEM­BER 16, 2018 Fam­ily bond: Above: Tim Kelly, part­ner Caitlin Miller and chil­dren, their twins Tariq and Trey, and Ty­keem. Pic­ture: Hails & Shine. Be­low left: Kelly play­ing for South Fre­man­tle; a Caitlin In­sta­gram snap; Kelly as an ap­pren­tice in Perth.

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