Stratton more motivated than ever to return to top flight

DESPITE all she has faced in her career, Box Hill stalwart Kristy Stratton is still as motivated as ever to have a second crack at AFLW level.

Having been delisted after four seasons at Collingwood in the AFLW, returning to the AFLW is Stratton’s “main goal” heading into 2023.

“I really want to give VFL a big crack (next) year,” she said. “I was pretty devastated not to get picked up for the Hawthorn AFLW team, but I think training with them through the preseason and into the AFLW season gave me a lot of motivation and obviously drive to be the best player I can.

“Obviously I’m in my older years, so I just really want to give (2023) a big crack and hopefully get back on an AFL list.”

On the subject of whether she was willing to shift states for an AFLW list spot if given the opportunity, Stratton has changed tunes in the last 12 months. Motivated more than ever, she is now willing to make the move if a non Victorian club was willing to giver her that chance.

Stratton during her Collingwood A/VFLW playing days | Credit: Jonathan Di Maggio/AFL Photos

Though now her next step is in the making, Stratton has already made many strides along her footballing journey. She says her love for the sport began with some persistence from her mother.

“My mum forced me to come and play football, because she actually played football when she was a kid,” she said. “We pretty much had a football oval behind us and they had a women’s team and my mum pretty much forced me out the back to go play girl’s footy and I was like ‘err, nah mum’.

“I grew up doing athletics all my life and I was not really new to changing sports, and then one training sessions she said ‘come on, I’ll walk you over’, and ever since then I pretty much fell in love with footy.”

Speaking of athletics, Stratton is not the only elite level athlete in her family. Her sister is Brooke Buschkuehl, the international long jumper who won a silver medal at the most recent Commonwealth Games.

Injuries were not kind to Stratton during her time at the Pies, with setbacks plaguing each one of the forward’s preseasons at the top level. Nor have they been kind to her for much of her extended footy career.

“I played a few seasons as a junior,” Stratton said. “I won the league best and fairest in my second year and then moved to Knox Senior Football Club to play there for one year, and then pretty much after the season had finished me and a few girls joined a basketball team. Silliest decision ever.

“I ruptured my ACL after that, was out for a year and a half and then Box Hill came along as obviously Knox kind of combined with Box Hill. I was kind of like ‘okay I’ll head down, have another crack’.

“It was pretty daunting coming back from an ACL, but then as soon as I came to Box Hill, I found out I had another meniscus tear in my knee, didn’t play first half of the season and then came back at the end of the season, played seven games and then managed to get drafted to Collingwood with those seven games, which I was very grateful for.”

Stratton’s ACL timing was made even worse by the fact that she missed the year Knox finally broke through to the Grand Final, after having a comparatively poor campaign the year before.

She says her ability to read the play is amongst the biggest strengths of her footballing game, while she is looking to improve her fitness, which she says is one of her weaknesses.

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