At a glance:
- Young Saint Olivia Vesely is in the running to take out St Kilda's inaugural best-and-fairest.
- The 20-year-old earned a Rising Star nomination in Round 5 against Carlton.
- Vesely averaged 15 disposals, four tackles and two marks per game.
Ask Oliva Vesely if she thinks she’s a chance at winning St Kilda’s best-and-fairest, and she’ll laugh it off and say: ‘no way’.
Ask anyone else, and they’ll say that she’s right up there to take out top honours.
While the 20-year-old genuinely may not think she’s a sniff at the prestigious award, her starring debut season would tell you otherwise.
The bubbly on-baller proved her league-wide standing after snaring the Saints’ third Rising Star nomination in Round 5, adding to her lengthy list of accolades following a terrific year in the VFLW.
Vesely’s toughness through the middle and skill in the clinches were integral to the red, white and black’s midfield brigade, with the No. 23 often acting as the first link in St Kilda’s midfield chain.
Whether it be under a pack or through heavy traffic, the young Saint always seemed to find a way to squeeze the ball out into space and give her side opportunities to gain territory.
Vesely also found plenty of time to win footy herself, finishing in her side’s top-three ball-winners on four occasions and placing second for total disposals, contested possessions and inside-50s.
But while those traits held her in high regard among the faithful, her off-field antics and warmth were the most endearing.
Her immediately recognisable ‘FEAR ME’ mouthguard to strike fear into the hearts of the opposition – a joke between teammates complete with Vesely’s own description as “the lamest story ever”.
Getting the news that she was the Rising Star nominee for Round 5 – coupled with her one-of-a-kind rendition of playing the St Kilda theme song with two recorders through her nose.
The Tik-Tok dances, the endless energy and the off-field quirks warmed RSEA Park day after day and always gave the playing group a reason to smile.
Season 2020 still seems like a bit of a dream for Vesely, who doubted she’d be selected in the first place.
But that dream is a reality, and she’s a real chance to take out this year’s best-and-fairest.
Season averages: 15 disposals, four tackles, two marks
Best game: Round 5 v Carlton, 18 disposals, four tackles, three marks
Key stat: First for St Kilda’s total AFL Fantasy points, second for disposals, contested possessions, inside-50s, third for clearances, tackles