When Sophie Locke put the call out to her Hawthorn teammates for fun run participants to help raise money for Breast Cancer Network Australia, she was overwhelmed with the response.

Locke's mother, Sarah, passed away from breast cancer just two weeks before the young Hawks forward made her debut in the club's first AFLW game in August, 2022, and Locke became a BCNA ambassador at the start of last year.

If players couldn't run at the event at Elsternwick Park in February, they donated.

Even Lou Stephenson – who is currently based in New South Wales for work with the fire service over the off-season – ran her own 5km fun-run in Sydney, solo.

"It's definitely opened me up to a broader community. I've met a lot of young girls who have gone through similar stories like mine, and I've also met some incredible women who are going through similar stories like Mum's," Locke said.

"Doing the fun run every year, as well as raising incredible amounts of money with my team, my family and friends, it's definitely been one of the best decisions I've made.

"I kind of popped it out there to the girls at Hawks, because every year, my mum's girlfriends and some of my family friends from back in Seymour like to do as much as they can to support the BCNA, and they like to jump in a team for the fun run. 

"I chucked it out to the girls, I said do you want to join the 'Bosom Buddies'? And yeah, they all jumped on board. Most of the girls joined or they did a run from other locations because they couldn't make it. The support from my team is unreal, and I'm very grateful to be a part of these girls."


Still unimaginably raw after the loss of her mother just a fortnight prior, Locke – then just 21 – kicked Hawthorn's first ever goal in the AFLW, kissing her black arm band and pointing to the sky as she was mobbed by teammates.

It was an image and story that captured the football world, but aided her in unexpected ways.

"Especially after my first game and my story being shared before round one, there's been so many girls, so many in the AFLW who have reached out who have (also) lost their mum," Locke said.

"I've been fortunate to catch up with Sophie Conway up in Brisbane, she's also an ambassador with BCNA. 

"It's good to feel that you're not alone, and that there's people out there who've been through similar experiences and it just gives you a little bit of extra comfort knowing that you've got those people around you."

With new coach Daniel Webster at the helm, Hawthorn is keen to improve on its first two seasons, winning three games each year.

"We had a few pretty close games (in 2023) that we wanted to finish off, and I think one of our biggest takeaways was we needed to play four quarters," Locke said.

"Just also playing more games together, I think, will help us. We've got quite a few new girls, and we've had even more in the draft and in the trade period."

Locke lives with cousin and Melbourne forward Georgia Gall, the pair from country Victoria now basing themselves in South Yarra and eyeing off a potential clash in round one of the VFLW, if their clubs opt to run them in the twos.

"It's been unreal watching her grow, and we both entered the League the same year. So it's been a pretty cool journey – we're both doing it together, and definitely pushing each other in the off-season," Locke said.

"She's been part of my footy journey since the start, so it's pretty cool that we've gone through it together."