Classy Colvin arrived at the light end of the tunnel

THE last 12 months or so have certainly had their fair share of ups and downs for Melbourne defender Gabby Colvin, who returns to the AFL Women’s tonight after tearing her ACL just before Season 7.

“It’s been pretty tough,” Colvin said, talking about the last year.

“Obviously anyone with a long term injury will tell you that it’s hard, not playing contact sport and the sport you love for 12 months, it does grind you down. But I’m really lucky to have an amazing support system, my friends and family and all the support staff here and all my teammates, so that made it a lot easier.”

Missing all of last season was made even more emotionally difficult for Colvin when her team mates went on to win the Season 7 premiership.

“It was a little bit bittersweet, but it made it all worth it when you see your team mates holding up the cup and you’re so happy for them and you’re ecstatic and it just makes you hungry to go out and do it yourself,” Colvin said.

It was not too long into the Season 7 preseason when Colvin did the injury, and it was a case of history repeating itself, with last season’s ACL injury not the first one the star defender had done.

“So it was the first week back of preseason of last year’s second season. It was one of our third sessions of the preseason and my knee just gave way when I went to change direction,” Colvin said.

“I’d done the same ACL about six years ago, so I got six good years out of the first one and I did that playing netball. I think it was a factor of two seasons within a year maybe, my body wasn’t quite ready for a second season. There was probably a lot of factors, it just happened to be that on the day.”

The injury gave Colvin a new perspective on footy, but it also came with some surprise positives.

“I was obviously forced to watch the season on the sidelines,” Colvin said. “You see a lot when you’re not playing and you can concentrate on the game style and the positioning of the backline and I just tried to further my knowledge of the game and figure out what I can bring to the team and how I can better myself. I think it definitely helped me see the game from a different angle so I guess that was a little bonus you could take away from it.”

Thankfully for Dees fans, her injury has not changed her game style too much, but she has certainly had to adapt it.

“It’s kind of stayed the same but I’ve found it hard to get my speed back, so I’m trying to play a bit smarter and putting the body on early rather than just running around like a mad chook like I used to,” Colvin said.

She was able to stay motivated through the rehab thanks to her team mates.

“I was pretty lucky to have my good mate Rhi Watt and Eliza McNamara and a couple of the other girls in rehab,” Colvin said.

“Just seeming them at every rehab session, that got me motivated and definitely kept me going, just having those girls around me. They made it so fun to be in rehab and it was nice to have a little crew, even though you don’t want them to be in rehab with you, it was good to have someone by your side, you didn’t have to do it all alone.

“So that kept me motivated, and you see the likes of Sammie Johnson, she’s just had a baby and she’s back on the park and then you’ve got Lizey McNamara coming back from a broken back, it’s those girls that keep you motivated and just all my team mates in general.”

Colvin had particular praise for Watt, who as a fellow ACL rehabber really helped Colvin through her journey.

“It helped tremendously,” Colvin said, speaking about having Watt alongside her for the rehab journey.

“Just we built a friendship and we’ve figured out we’re pretty much the same person and we’ve got the same humour, so that helped. We gave the physio team a bit of grief with our jokes and whatnot, but just having Rhi by my side and knowing that we were in it together, I think we found motivation from that. I don’t know what I would have done without her, it was a long journey and I was grateful to have her by my side.”

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