Emily Bates had an outstanding debut season in brown and gold.

The premier midfielder immediately lifted the standards of the team at training during pre-season, which saw her elected as co-vice-captain without even playing a game for the Hawks yet.

She then continued to lead from the front by winning the club's time trial and dominating in practice matches.

By Round 1, the 28-year-old was ready to guide the young and developing Hawks into a new era.

Bates played every game in 2023 and recorded double-digit disposals in each appearance as well as double-digit tackles in five matches.

She capped off the year by leading the Hawks in league best and fairest votes, club best and fairest votes and coaches votes.

The midfielder was also nominated for the AFLPA AFLW MVP and won the club's Gold Standards Award, highlighting just how dominant her season was. 

But perhaps one of the most special and meaningful moments of the season came in Round 9 where Bates played her 75th AFLW game. 

It was that match where she would become one of the first players to reach the milestone and remind the league of the fact that she has never missed a game of AFLW.

To cap it all off, Bates kicked her first goal as a Hawk in that game, bringing the Kinetic Stadium crowd to its feet. 

Key stats:

Disposals per game: 20.8

Tackles per game: 9.7 (career-high)

Total tackles: 97 (ranked second in the league) 

Clearances per game: 4.9

Contested possessions per game: 13 (career-high)

Key achievements:

  • Elected as co-vice-captain in her first season as a Hawk 
  • Won Hawthorn's time trial 
  • Most coaches votes by a Hawthorn player, including a perfect 10 for her performance against St Kilda in Round 6 
  • Most league best and fairest votes by a Hawthorn player, including a perfect three for her performance against St Kilda in Round 6
  • Nominated for the AFLW MVP award 
  • Won Hawthorn's best and fairest 
  • Won Hawthorn's Gold Standards award 
  • Was the fan-voted MVP for 2023 
  • Played her 75th AFLW game

Best game:

Round 6 v St Kilda 

It was always hard to pick just one game as Bates' best, but she really did dominate in this performance against St Kilda at RSEA Park. 

Despite battling a tag from the Saints, the 27-year-old managed to record a career-high 31 disposals at 81 per cent efficiency, impressing with her remarkable ability to show up at every contest and continue to put her head over the ball with vigour.

This was reflected in her whopping 23 contested possessions and solid 343 metres gained. 

She backed up that ball-winning dominance with elite tackling pressure, laying 11 for the game.

When it came to clearances, Bates broke through for 10 in a season-best effort. 

Despite her team going down by nine points, the midfielder was a clear best-on-ground, claiming the maximum votes from both the coaches and umpires.

Other honourable mentions for Bates' best game include her performance against Essendon in Round 1 where she laid a career-high 15 tackles in her first game as a Hawk.

In Round 5, she dominated against her old side Brisbane, recording 17 disposals and laying 14 tackles.

Then finally, after two behinds throughout the season, it was a joy to see Bates break through for her first brown and gold goal in her 75th game in Round 9.

She backed up that major with 18 disposals and 13 tackles.