The AFLW pre-season has not officially started yet, but Ballarat football export Kaitlyn Ashmore is already comfortable at Arden Street.
The highly-rated midfielder has just finished the VFL Women’s season with North Melbourne’s affiliate team Melbourne Uni.
But instead of taking a break, the North Melbourne recruit is already counting down until she can get on the track with her new teammates for the expansion club’s first AFLW pre-season.
Ashmore, who previously played with the Brisbane Lions, spoke with North Melbourne’s media in an online podcast about how she was settling in at her new club.
While she is supposed to be on a two-week break, Ashmore still has football at the front of her mind.
“I love coming into the club,” Ashmore said.
“Even if I don’t do much, I love getting around it and feeling like I’m part of the North Melbourne crew.”
Melbourne Uni finished the VFLW season in ninth position on the ladder, missing out on a finals campaign.
But Ashmore said the season had been a great opportunity to play alongside some of her new AFLW teammates.
“I slotted in really nicely, they made me feel really welcome and it ended up being a really great season,” Ashmore told North Melbourne.
“Obviously coming from different clubs and getting that feel for how each other plays, it was really nice to get to know them on and off the field as well as getting around them at the club as well.”
She said the women’s squad had already started developing the team chemistry in the off-season, even before the players had officially met, via group chat.
The AFLW pre-season will kick off in November.
With the AFLW competition played in the summer and the off-season usually spent playing VFLW, Ashmore said it was a tough work load but the clubs were helping the players manage.
“That’s probably one thing that we struggled with, especially coming off the first season,” Ashmore said.
“Our bodies aren’t really used to all that load."
While Ashmore dedicates a lot of her time to football, away from the sport she is working as a relief teacher at a school in Coburg.
In August, there was uproar over AFL boss Gillon McLachlan’s proposal of shortening the AFLW season.
Ashmore expressed her agreement on social media over the ramifications of a shortened season with players making huge sacrifices to compete in a league they expect to expand, not shrink.
The league has since announced the structure of the 2019 season, which will continue with seven home and away rounds but an extra week of finals – with both preliminary and grand finals.
But there will be one major change, with the competition divided into a conference system. While the fixture is expected to be released in October, the expansion teams will be split.