Katie Loynes doesn’t know when to quit.
She wouldn’t know how. She was told not to intrude on her brother’s football games as a kid, but ended up playing as a teenager and despite suffering four major injuries since 2011, she pursued the dream of one day being part of an AFL club.
Today, at the experienced age of 30, Loynes got that chance.
Selected by Carlton with pick 110 in the 2016 AFL Women’s draft, Loynes is a typical footy head. She’s loved the game since she was a 12-year-old watching her brother play and admiring the game from afar as a loyal Blues fan.
“Footy has always been number one, you don’t get that team success when you do with sports like athletics,” Loynes told Aflplayers.com.au.
“The physicality is what drew me to the game along with the team environment. I love the contest and that mental battle not to give up and that mental challenge.”
Apart from social competitions when at high school, Loynes played her first game as an 18-year-old. She showed promise and continued her career uninterrupted before a fateful clash while playing for Victoria ended in a broken leg in 2011.
It started a string of consecutive long-term injuries. Another clash of bodies in the slush at her home turf of Diamond Creek ruined her ankle which required a reconstruction.
Loynes chose to play on, with the lure of a Demons flag too great to refuse and underwent the surgery after clinching premiership victory.
In 2013, things became more serious. She played in the first exhibition game for the Western Bulldogs and resumed at Diamond Creek soon after.
But the injury curse wasn’t far away, and she suffered what all footballers dread.
“I went up for a mark and because I was wearing an ankle brace and had it taped as well, when I landed there was so much restriction in the ankle that my knee moved outwards and ruptured the ACL in my left leg,” Loynes added.
“I didn’t play at all in 2014.”
She returned in 2015 but was still having stability issues with her knee. Loynes played throughout the year with Diamond Creek and felt she had some consistency back in her game after playing in the second exhibition game with the Western Bulldogs.
But the stability in her knee was a concern and after seeing a surgeon was told she had to have another knee reconstruction in February this year.
Feeling like she needed to attack her rehab differently the second time around, Loynes enlisted the help of elite physio Gary Nichols and Carlton’s Tenile Hayes to devise a strength program to focus on her stability and offer support throughout her recovery.
And with four major injuries in six years, Loynes would be forgiven for throwing in the towel, but being so close to a dream she never thought would eventuate, she never considered hanging up the boots.
“I love football. The thought of retiring or quitting just doesn’t sit well with me. I always thought I could come back from the injuries and contribute more to my team, so the thought of quitting didn’t sit well, I’d rather go out on my own terms.
“Because of the amount of pain I was in, my family thought it might’ve been time to retire but when the national league was announced, they knew themselves that there was no way of talking me out of playing.”