Uniquely situated Wotton realistic about where Hawks sit

UNLIKE many of her fellow AFLW assistant coaches, Hawthorn assistant Lou Wotton has come up from coaching a state league side into an AFLW side, after being an assistant with Hawthorn’s VFLW outfit.

With the season being brought forward, although the turnaround may have been quick for her, it wouldn’t deter the Hawks who have been “ready for this for ages” with “planning in the works for a long time”.

She said that on a basic level coaching at both levels is essentially the same.

“In terms of coaching I guess the basics are still the same in terms of building relationships,” Wotton said. “I was lucky enough to know a few of the players, whether I’ve played against them in the past or coached them through our VFLW program, so I knew a few of the girls, it was kind of a good starting point.”

Despite these similarities, there are a number of differences with how things were run in the two programs. The training standard was a lot higher and run to a much stricter timeline, and Wotton is coaching a completely different line this AFLW season, having moved across to be the forwards coach.

Wotton said that preseason had gone very well, but very quickly.

“It’s really good, going by quite quickly, as is the nature of AFLW this season,” she said. “The first few weeks were really about connection and getting to know each other, and then we moved into a bit of a fitness phase and now we’re in the competing phase because the season’s not far away.”

Much like Essendon, Hawthorn’s VFLW side went deep in the season, and despite not ending their season they way they probably should have, the success of the team generated a lot of positivity around the club.

“There was a lot of positivity around the club,” Wotton said. “I guess we as a club made the choice to not save our AFLW players, but make sure they weren’t injured for the AFLW season. There was such a good vibe and culture around the VFLW program, and I really think that vibe and culture was shared amongst the whole club.

“We’ve had a lot of support from the President and the CEO and other general managers from Hawthorn, right throughout our time, since 2018. I think that excitement that we really built after those couple of years of being interrupted by Covid, it was really great to build that culture and the winning culture, and despite us not finishing our VFLW season like we hope, it was a really good vibe from the group.”

For the practice match against Richmond which occurred over the weekend, Wotton said the team’s objectives were pretty simple – to test their hard training against an opposition, and to put their ferocious game style to the test.

In terms of goals for the season, Wotton is realistic with the team’s ambitions. They’re not talking about finals, they just want to play a ferocious style of footy, they want their fans to be excited to see the next generation of AFLW stars pull on a Hawthorn jumper, and to find a good mix of youth and experience in the side.

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