Hawthorn recruit Emily Everist nearly missed one of the most important name calls of her life on AFLW Draft night.
The 17-year-old Bendigo product was in Cairns, not knowing whether her AFLW dream would come true.
Everist was not rocking by the TV or grasping a family member’s hands, she had instead sat in a room with the door closed, nervously awaiting the news on her own.
When she was drafted by the Hawks at Pick 26, all the emotions spilled out of that room and into the living room.
“I didn’t really want to be there watching,” Everist admitted.
“I was too nervous, too worried and had a lot of emotions.
“I went to the toilet just before Picks 25 and 26 (Hawthorn’s final picks of the draft) and didn’t really want to come out but my parents were telling me to, so I slowly made my way back into the lounge room just in time to hear my name.
“Then I heard my name and it was such a relief, I was so excited.
“I couldn’t stop smiling, I couldn’t go to sleep!”
The journey to the elite level has been a rapid one for Everist, who only started playing football in January.
After playing 14 years of elite soccer mainly in defence, she used those skills to suit up in the backline for the Bendigo Pioneers in the NAB League.
“A lot of the positional skills and spatial awareness from soccer has come across to footy a lot which has been really helpful,” Everist said.
“I’ve just got to fine-tune skills like kicking but overall, it’s really helped.”
One of Everist’s most impressive attributes is her endurance, which she said has come with a lot of hard work.
As someone who watches a lot of AFL and AFLW, she has taken inspiration from three players in particular to help build on her running capabilities.
“I model my game on a few different players, not just one,” Everist said.
“Alyssa Bannan, her ability to stay in the contest and receive those balls in behind, Emma Kearney, her drive of the legs, and even Ed Langdon - his endurance work down the wing is something I want to take on board in my game."
Like every draftee, Everist’s family has made a lot of sacrifices to sustain her footy journey.
But what sets her family apart is the travel distance, ferrying to and from Bendigo on multiple occasions both while she was playing footy and soccer.
The defender simply couldn’t be where she is without her family.
“There’s been a lot of travel in the past few years with footy and soccer but I’ve enjoyed every bit of it,” she said.
“I’m willing to make all those sacrifices for the sport I love.
“Now that I’ve been drafted, I think my family is probably happy that I’m not stressed and grumpy anymore.
“I’m sure they’re very proud and hopefully now know that their driving has paid off.
“They’re just excited to see how I go and how I develop.”