It’s been a big six months for Geelong’s first ever father-daughter pick Millie Brown, but the 19-year-old has handled the rollercoaster that is the AFLW the same way she plays her footy - cool, calm and collected.
Brown set herself the goal of playing just one game in her debut season. The tall defender ended up playing every game possible, six in total.
From her debut in Fremantle where she was presented her jumper by her family, to her first win on the road against the Suns, 2020 has been an eventful one for the youngster.
But for Brown, who is wise beyond her years, she knows this is just the beginning and that there’s more to football than just playing well.
Talking to Brown, you can see football means more to her than performance. It’s about connections and being able to share special moments with the people you care about.
“Coming into the season my ultimate goal was just to play one game,” said Brown.
“Another big thing for me was to just earn the respect of my teammates.
“That’s pretty important to me.
“It’s something my parents have always stressed.
"I remember Mum and Dad saying to me that they couldn't care if people were telling them that I was good at sport.
"They said the best thing they love hearing is that their kid’s a good person and so that has kind of stuck with me and that’s just something that I’ve tried to do in all aspects but it’s especially important in team environments.”
Brown didn’t have to wait long to make her debut, being named in the Round 1 side to take on Fremantle.
Her family flew over to watch the game and to present her with her jumper prior to the match.
“That was so cute, I was about to start crying.
“Especially because they gave the jumper to Mum to give to me instead of Dad.
“Everyone always thinks Dad would have probably been the most influential because he played footy.
“I’ve been playing sport since I was 10 and Mum would drive me everywhere, so it shows that she cares just as much.
“Just because Mum didn’t play the high level that Dad did, she has been just as influential.”
The team’s 20-point win against the Gold Coast in Mackay was Brown’s highlight of the season. The Cats come-from-behind victory in unfavourable conditions showing what the group was capable of.
“I felt like we had won the grand final after that, I don’t know why.
“I think I was a bit tired going into it, and it was so hot, but then when we got on top of them I’ve never been so pumped up in my life.
“The feelings in the change rooms afterwards, I was just like, ‘I love this!’.”
As can happen in the AFLW, things turned around very quickly and just one week later Geelong suffered their worst loss of the season.
To add insult to injury, one of Brown’s closest teammates Nina Morrison went down with her second ACL in as many years.
Five days later, due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the group was told that their season was over.
“I was really disappointed to hear that because I think we’d been starting to hit our straps a little bit with games.
“I know we had the North Melbourne one, but Nina went down in that and I think there was a bit going on that night.
“The couple of weeks before that we’d really started to play some good footy and I think it would have been good for us as a group to move forward.”
Despite the shortened season, Brown has learnt a lot from her first year as an AFLW player.
“I think I learnt not to be complacent.
“Because if I’m happy with how I went one week, it could turn around very quickly the next week.
“Try and exceed where you were the week before or where you are currently because everyone else is developing so quickly around you that if you just get happy with where you’re at then you’ll get left behind.”
If Brown continues on her current trajectory, it’s hard to see her being left behind.