In the middle of training last night the playing group was called in by head coach Paul Hood and told the bad news - our season was over.
Looking around the group I could see my teammates processing the information.
All week there had been speculation that this may be the case, but hearing it officially for the first time sent a new wave of emotion over the group.
A disappointing way to end our @catswomens season. Thanks to our fans and players for the year that was.— Geelong Cats (@GeelongCats) March 18, 2020
One thing is for certain - we'll be back bigger and better next time.#HerStoryOurFuture #WeAreGeelong pic.twitter.com/FhDcTq1mtL
Surprisingly, my thoughts travelled all the way back to November when our pre-season began.
I thought of all the training sessions, fitness testing, running and gym sessions we endured. Months of hard work, sore muscles and sweat.
Then I thought of the six games we played and how we put our bodies on the line only to find out our season would finish at “¾ time”.
I thought to myself, “what a waste”.
As quickly as that thought entered my brain, it quickly exited. I knew it was wrong.
Those six games weren’t a waste. That pre-season wasn’t for nothing.
There were so many things that made the 2020 AFLW season worthwhile.
We discovered new talent. Millie Brown showed us the future of our club playing every game in her debut season. Her composure and cool head under pressure making her a natural at the highest level. She will have learnt so much from those six games, which will make her even a better player next year.
Our 'youth brigade' started to shine. In just their second season, 19-year-olds Liv Purcell, Nina Morrison, Becky Webster, Sophie Van De Heuvel and Georgia Clarke looked more comfortable, more capable and more confident taking on the competition.
Purcell in particular was a stand-out in 2020. She led our team for disposals, contested possessions, clearances and score involvements and I get the feeling she’s only just scratched the surface of her potential. She will be one of the best in the game. Watch this space.
The team’s middle-aged players were in career-best form. I’ve played football alongside Maddy Keryk for a long time now and I’ve never seen her play as well as she has this season. Keryk fitted in seamlessly in her new role on our half back line. Julia Crockett-Grills took her game to new heights, her running and determination setting her apart from others. Jordan Ivey stepped into the team’s midfield and into the club’s leadership group and will walk away from the season more experienced as a player and a leader. Meghan McDonald also entered a leadership role for the first time, our courageous vice-captain playing out the season with a broken finger.
Finally, us older players have also gained a lot from 2020. I’ve known Melissa Hickey for a long time and I’ve never seen her having so much fun. I can’t speak on her behalf but from an outsider's perspective our captain looked as though she had the time of her life this season. Aasta O’Connor showed a caring side to her that not many would expect. This year I noticed how much our team means to her. She acts as a mentor to a number of our younger players, providing them with advice and sharing her football knowledge.
Most importantly, we got to play another six games together as a team (eight including practice matches). Playing games as a group helps us learn one another’s skills, become more predictable and develop relationships on and off the field.
There are some memories we will never forget. For me in particular our road trip to Mackay will be one I look back on favourably for a long time. Everyone just enjoyed being in one another’s company. The win away from home in unfavourable conditions making it even more special.
So despite this season coming to an abrupt end, I feel like we’ve taken a lot of important steps forward.
The experiences we had in 2020, good and bad, won’t go to waste.