Emerging talent Kate Shierlaw will be part of St Kilda’s historic first women’s team after being elevated from the club’s VFL list this week.
In emotional scenes at training, Shierlaw became the 17th member of the Saints’ AFLW list, after receiving the news from her partner and North Melbourne captain Emma Kearney.
Invited to training under the pretence of sharing her knowledge of the elite standards required at the top level, Kearney surprised her partner with some life-changing news.
The 186-cm key forward was rewarded after a stunning run of form that has seen her named in the Southern Saints’ best players six times out of the past eight games.
Her growing importance to the Saints was best evident in last week’s win over Essendon, where she bagged three goals, including two in the final term to drag her side over the line.
Shierlaw spent the first two years of the AFLW competition with Carlton, before spending the 2018 season with Darebin in the VFLW.
Despite a broken hand during pre-season, the talented tall was immediately voted into the Southern Saints’ leadership group and was consequently named co-captain.
At 186cm and with strong overhead ability, Shierlaw is tipped to become one of the Saints’ key targets up forward when the club joins the AFLW competition in 2020.
Shierlaw spoke of the hard work she had put in to get to this point.
“My last two years of footy has been pretty challenging,” Shierlaw said.
“To come here where everyone has been really welcoming and I feel really valued, I’ve been able to get the best out of myself.”
“I had a great first two years at Carlton and then was delisted so I just wanted to work really hard to get back to the top level.
“It is very special. A lot of hard work has gone into it, but the hard work won’t stop now. I get another opportunity and hopefully I will make the most of it.”
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Shierlaw said she was in shock when she realised the true reason Kearney was at the club.
“I was sitting in here just like every meeting before training and Em walked in and I though oh what is she doing here.
“As soon as she started talking about my journey I clicked that it was me straight away and I lost it.”
Saints AFLW coach Peta Searle spoke with great pride in the improvement shown by her key forward this season.
“In terms of inspiring people in this group, Kate is a great leader. Out of all the girls, Kate is at the club most trying to improve herself.”
“She is an extremely driven and determined person and she has shown great resilience. She does that without ever compromising anyone else’s development.”
“I can call her at 10am and she will be in here at 10:30am ready to go.”