Fast forward five years and Gawn has returned to join his friend, no longer boys but men, to teach the next generation of Monders footballers how to play the game they love.
It will be a busy season for Gawn, juggling coaching with his Melbourne duties, his studies to be a teacher and helping out with the charity, Ladder, in an effort to decrease youth homelessness.
The big fellow reached out to the club to express his interest in coaching.
He contacted McCooke, who has continued through to the Ormond senior team and become a quality player in his own right, to suggest they team up to coach a squad.
Ormond not only put them in charge of a team, it it has provided two experienced coaches for the first-timers to learn from.
This season Ormond will field two Under 16 teams with the rookies Gawn and McCooke taking the reins for the Division 2 squad, helped by a couple of the club’s coaching stalwarts in Craig Lovett and Greg Maclaren.
“(I’m) still in the process of finding my feet,” Gawn said.
“A lot of coaches you see coaching in the AFL coach the way they play, I like to think I’m a pretty hard player so I think the team’s going to be nice and hard.”
Between them, Lovett and Maclaren have coached every age group at Ormond, from Auskick through to Under 16s.
Assisted by Lovett, Maclaren is coaching the Division 4 side this season and will serve as a guiding force for the rookie coaches.
Lovett says the team has quickly taken to the newcomers.
“They’ve both been fantastic with the way they communicate with the boys,” Lovett said.
“Max has to say anything and the boys will fall over for him… [He] commands a lot of respect but he’s certainly a fun guy and gets his message across really well.”
Both teams train together so all four coaches get the chance to impart their coaching philosophy on to the group and all four stress a different message.
It creates a synergy within the group not dissimilar to several pieces of a jigsaw coming together to complete the picture.
This return to Ormond may be the first step on a path as a career coach for Gawn, who harbours ambitions to coach in the future.
“I’ve obviously got big aspirations to be a coach when I’m older,” Gawn said.
“Look at the ruck coach in the AFL at the moment… They come in for two days a week and still work full time outside of football.
“I’d like to come down and coach at Ormond seniors one day.”