DEFENDER Kaitlyn Ashmore worked hard, really hard, in the off-season to try to win a spot back on the national stage.
A big pre-season was a personal choice for the Ballarat athlete to improve her fitness and fine-tune her football skills.
Her reward was to be re-drafted to Melbourne Demons in the second annual AFL Women’s Draft – this time a top-10 pick.
Ashmore said she was disappointed to be delisted after last season’s inaugural AFL-sanctioned women’s game against Western Bulldogs, but her drive to improve came more from striving to test what she could achieve next.
“It feels amazing to be with Melbourne again,” Ashmore said.
“When Michelle (Demons’ coach Michelle Cowan) called me, she told me she had to delist a certain amount of players but to keep working hard on my game.
“I was really disappointed at the time ... but it feels amazing to get picked again.”
Ashmore said there was much more hype about the draft this year, partly due to the success of last year’s game and partly due to the rapidly growing nature of women’s football.
More than 285 players nominated for the draft, with 24 players added to existing lists in the draft call at Etihad Stadium on Monday night.
Candidates undertook fitness testing similar to the AFL Combine in their home states.
Ashmore was also part of a state game on Anzac Day that doubled as selection trials to reach draft day.
Most of her teammates will suit up for the Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium on June 29 but Ashmore does not mind one bit. She can hardly wait just to run out on game day.