St Kilda’s Olivia Vesely missed out on the AFLW Draft twice, but her hard work has been rewarded according to former junior teammate Jemma Owen. Alongside Carlton’s Charlotte Wilson, Vesely was the round five nomination for the 2020 AFLW Rising Star award.
In 2017, Olivia Vesely claimed the first-ever Sandringham Dragons Girls Best and Fairest.
Described as a “mongrel”, she quickly built a reputation as one of the hardest-hitting midfield prospects in under-18 girls football.
Despite that stellar 2017 season, Vesely missed the AFLW draft. Twice.
Now, after playing all five games for St Kilda in 2020, since being drafted last year, she’s an AFLW Rising Star nominee.
The 20-year-old is no stranger to such accolades either, having won the VFLW Rising Star award last season.
Jemma Owen— who played with Vesely in 2017, and now holds the title of assistant coach at the Dragons—says it’s all a product of hard work.
“I was a bit shocked not seeing her get picked up [in 2017 and 2018],” Owen said.
“But I think since then she’s really worked hard on her skills, doing extra sessions and all that sort of stuff probably helped her become a much better player.
“Really putting her head down probably made her the player that she is now.”
Though undoubtedly a strong individual achievement, it’s Vesely’s teamwork which could become the most prominent feature of her game as her career progresses.
“She’s always wanted to put in the hard yards to get the best out of herself and the best out of her teammates,” Owen explained.
“She’s a team player. She goes in hard, I think she’s an awesome player to watch and, having played with her myself, she’s a real team player and wants the best out of everyone else so that’s probably the biggest thing.”
Off the field, Vesely’s team-oriented nature remains.
“She’s really lovely and kind. Always asks how you are, is always very interested in everyone and listens to everything everyone has to say. She’s an awesome person,” Owen said.
Vesely gathered 18 disposals to go with four marks against Carlton on Saturday, earning the nomination in a characteristically tough display.