Long treks and boys footy steels Ewings for future

EIGHT-HOUR return trips, multiple training sessions between state football and cricket, as well as her North Adelaide commitments, it is fair to say young star Hannah Ewings and her family have sacrificed a lot to get to where she is today. Though now Ewings is living and working in Adelaide, for a long time the incredibly long road trips were a weekly occurrence for the Whyalla-based teenager.

“Shoutout to mum and dad, thank you for taking me every time,” Ewings said. “We’d come at least two, three times a week, try and train, try and play. “That was first, I did state cricket as well. “So I’d do that, I’d do state footy, play SANFL, play League, it was pretty tiring on my parents and on me just sitting in the car for four hours, then coming out trying to play, it gave me heavy legs. “It’s been well deserved.”

Now an AFLW Academy member, the North Adelaide talent has long been a star in the making, and is one of those players who has been able to play football throughout their life, albeit with a temporary pause.

“I started playing football originally in Whyalla when I was five-years-old. I played with the boys because no girls were interested,” Ewings said. “I was juggling football, basketball, netball, cricket, all at that type of age. “I actually quit football for a year and went and played netball. “Then I won an association best and fairest for netball but then I quit that, and then started focusing on football a bit more which I enjoyed a bit more than the other sports.

“I played up until 14s in Whyalla until the girls weren’t allowed to play anymore. “Then I had to travel to Adelaide every weekend. I played the Maccas Shield for the Under 14s to 16s. “Then I played for SMOSH West Lakes in the A Grade team and then (North Adelaide coach) Krissie Steen invited me out three years ago to SANFLW. “I trained there and then just got a position there as a mid-forward so that’s been pretty good.”

Underselling what she has achieved in the SANFL Women’s competition, Ewings burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old, winning the Breakthrough Player Award, picking up Team of the Year honours and celebrating in a Roosters flag. She admitted she did not expect the individual accolades, and described them as “good and exciting” but also conceded she was “pretty nervous” on her debut having come from country football.

“Definitely it was really good in the first year, and then followed by last year where I obviously did my ankle which was devastating, but I bounced back and I’m here now, so hopefully I can have an injury free season again,” she said.

That ankle injury ruled her out of the 2021 AFLW Under 19 National Championships last year, and indeed the rest of the season. North Adelaide dropped out of finals, and it was fair to say 2021 was a frustrating one for the red and white faithful. But back fit and already stepping up for her Roosters side, Ewings has remained healthy to run out with the Croweaters against Western Australia on the weekend.

“I was actually pretty nervous today just because I hadn’t played State in a long time, but the coaches and staff I just knew I had to play my role and do the team thing,” Ewings said. “I haven’t played with my age group in a while, so it was a bit different, very fast-paced environment, but they had good contests, good run on the ball, their attack on the footy was amazing. They really came out and today and put us on the back foot but we came away with the win.”

Hannah Ewings
Hannah Ewings looks to kick the ball in the first quarter against Western Australia at the 2022 AFLW U18 Championships | Picture credit: Rookie Me Central

That win was to the tune of 84 points, and though Ewings felt her performance was “pretty good” slotting four goals – only credited with three officially – the Roosters teenager still left room for improvement.

“Could have done a bit more, but look we all did the team thing which was good, and we all played out role and knew what we had to do, so that’s the main thing,” she said.

Ewings is looking forward to South Australia’s second AFLW Under 18s clash of the 2022 carnival, up against a Vic Country side that suffered a heavy defeat to Vic Metro. The game will be played at Adelaide Oval, a venue that the talented youngster believes the Croweaters could take advantage of with their spread, run and carry.

Being a member of the AFLW Academy means Ewings is seen as one of the top 20 players running around in Australia for her age group. In the recent AFLW Draft Power Rankings, the South Australian was named at two, and the mid-forward certainly justified that with her first championships performance in four years. Of the AFLW Academy nod, Ewings said she was blessed to be involved with the Academy.

“Yeah pretty amazing, it’s a great opportunity,” Ewings said. “I’m very honoured to be a part of that program and Tarks (Tarkyn Lockyer, head coach) has been amazing to me and so has the other coaching staff. I think we have a game coming up soon which will be pretty good.”

Ewings has come a long way since playing country footy against the boys in Whyalla, but the top-age talent said that experienced helped steel her for the girls footy in the city, and ultimately it has shaped her aggressive gamestyle.

“When I first came to Adelaide it was the first time I played with the girls,” she said. “It was definitely very different because the boys are very fearsome and they definitely didn’t hold back. “Playing against the girls was a little bit, I knew I had to be aggressive because they weren’t too aggressive as the boys were, but overall it was pretty good.”

In her first season, Ewings went from playing against friends at school, to AFLW players such as Ebony Marinoff, as well as running out alongside fellow Rooster, Anne Hatchard. The 18-year-old said she has kept in touch with the Crows players, having come through the Crows Academy.

“Yeah it was pretty good (of playing against Marinoff and other Crows players),” Ewings said. “We actually had Hatchy come back in our team and she took me under her wing. “I was really excited about that, because she’s a player I always look up to. Same with Chelsea Randall and Erin Phillips, we keep in touch and talk. “We have coffee dates, it’s pretty good. I’ve been inspired by them, on and off the field and as players, so it’s been good.”

Off the field, Ewings is an apprentice chef, where she funnily enough works under South Australian Under 18s coach Tim Weatherald. Her dish of choice is pasta, which she cooks every Friday before a game, in a routine that has become a tradition.

On the field, when asked about her draft profile, Ewings said she valued her long kicking, and composure and decision making under pressure, whilst conceding that she still needed to improve her defensive running further. Now in her draft-eligible year, Ewings is doing everything she can to step up and play at the highest level.

“This is my draft year so hopefully I can get draft year,” she said. “I’ve been working pretty hard. I’ve just recently moved down from Whyalla to Adelaide and living by myself and working, so just trying to put in the hard yards to try and get drafted.

“I don’t really have any other goals, just because I’ve been trying to focus on work and football. It’s just a lot at the moment, so my main priority is just trying to get drafted, and once that happens, then we’ll figure what else I can do.”

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