Melissa Hickey will lead Geelong’s inaugural AFLW team after being named as Cats’ captain for the 2019 season. Hickey will head a six-person player leadership group that features Bec Goring as vice-captain, along with Rocky Cranston, Renee Garing, Aasta O’Connor and Anna Teague.

Hickey and O’Connor joined the Cats from Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs, while Goring, Cranston, Garing and Teague have all been integral members of the Cats VFLW team over the past two seasons.

“It’s a great honour obviously,” Hickey said. 

“It’s such a great group of girls, who are well led anyway. We have had a few weeks on the track already so it formalises things a bit more having a leadership group, a captain and vice-captain.  The family legacy adds an extra special touch to it.

“It’s something that I really wanted to be, the captain of this club. It was part of the opportunity coming down here, as an area of growth for me, and a new challenge.

“I was reminiscing with Dad on the phone about wearing the Cats jumper when I was a kid and going for kicks with him, that was another special moment.”

Hickey has enjoyed a long and successful career in football. She spent the past two AFLW campaigns with the Demons, playing 13 games and earning All Australian honours in 2017. Hickey suffered a ruptured ACL late last season but is on track to return for the Cats first AFLW tilt.

Hickey enjoyed a decorated career in the VFLW competition, earning six premiership medals in a career spent with Darebin and St Albans. Hickey is related to the legendary Reg Hickey. She will wear the number 18 jumper that Reg wore through his career. 

Goring has served as the Cats VFLW captain for the past two years. She is a key defender and previously played three seasons with Melbourne University, where she was co-captain. Goring captained the Cats to the VFLW grand final and was named in the VFLW team of the year as a key defender. She will debut at AFLW level as the Cats vice-captain.

In addition to being an elite footballer, Goring is a talented musician, having graduated from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. Goring played a key role in the club’s successful presentation to the AFL to secure an AFLW licence for the 2019 season.

Cranston won the Cats VFLW best & fairest in 2018 and was a member of the VFLW team of the year in each of the past two seasons. She spent two AFLW seasons with Melbourne, playing 13 games. Cranston was named in the All Australian squad in 2018. She also played in the AFL women’s games that preceded the formation of AFLW.

A talented all-around athlete, having also played gridiron, Cranston has played close to a decade of football, starting in Ballarat before moving to Geelong.

Garing is a strong inside midfielder who made the conversion from netball to football in 2017. Her first season was a success, where she finished fourth in the Cats best & fairest after playing every game. Garing’s second season was off to a brilliant start, where she was averaging 27 possessions a game before suffering a back injury.

One of Geelong’s premier netballers before switching to football, Garing played at state league level for Geelong and was coach at St Mary’s netball club. She is a three-time GFL netball best & fairest winner. Garing is an ambassador for the club’s Just Think community program that educates young people around alcohol consumption.

O’Connor helped the Bulldogs to the 2018 AFLW premiership, playing every game for the Dogs in their flag winning campaign. Playing mainly as a ruck, O’Connor has enjoyed a decorated career, winning four premierships with Darebin Falcons in the VFL and four with Logan Cobras in the QFL. She is a six-time All Australian and was twice named as best on ground in VFLW grand final wins.

O’Connor is currently working as the AFL’s women’s academy manager.

Teague made the switch from basketball to football when the Cats entered the VFLW in 2017. A former captain and championship winner with the Geelong Supercats, Teague quickly settled into football, playing as a key defender. She finished third in the best and fairest in her first season, and earned a rookie contract with Melbourne. Teague played four AFLW games before rejoining the Cats.

Teague helped Geelong to the VFLW grand final and will fill a key leadership role in the Cats transition to AFLW.

The Cats will run out in the AFLW for the first time on Saturday 2 February at GMHBA Stadium against Collingwood.