It was a bittersweet game when Hawthorn’s VFLW side defeated Western Bulldogs in Round 8.
The Hawks saluted with a 25-point win, but star midfielder Pip Peschke's season hung in the balance.
The 25-year-old was helped off the ground early in the second quarter after a collision with an opposition player. She was preparing for the worst, bracing herself to hear the news of a torn ACL.
Peschke recalls the moment she felt her knee ‘pop’.
“I knew straight away I’d done my ACL, or at least something significant.
“When I got my scans done, that proved it.”
Weeks later, she was undergoing a knee reconstruction.
Now three weeks post-op, the reality has set in and Peschke has begun the long road to recovery.
“I’m slowly getting that knee extension back and getting some proper movement.”
“I get to start cycling very soon and some body weight stuff, and then hopefully by the three-month mark I’ll be running in a straight line.
“Physically my body is in a good state right now and I can start getting back a bit of fitness and strength.”
Peschke could be forgiven for feeling hard done by about the setback, having missed out on the 2018 premiership campaign after rupturing her achilles on the eve of Round 1.
“I would guess people just feel really flat for me, but this whole time I've felt pretty positive about it.
“That’s because I was able to play seven games before it happened, whereas last year I didn’t play at all.
“It’s also different from last year because I am in a better head space.”
2017 was Peschke’s first year of football, and she began to find her form towards the end of her inaugural season. Unfortunately, she quickly developed an unhealthy obsession with the game, leading to some anxiety issues.
“I was still learning and still wanting to prove myself.
“My mindset was ‘I will play footy and get drafted at the expense of everything else in my life and I'm going to do everything I can to make that happen
“So then when I did my Achilles, I really felt like the world was ending, which is dramatic, but a reflection of the state of mind I was in.”
But this year is different.
After the pain of last year, she is a more resilient person, sure.
But she’s also had an opportunity this year that she didn’t have back then; the chance to show her teammates what she can do on the footy field.
“Knowing that I had seven games where I played really well, where I played my role and contributed to my team, I think that has put me in a far better mental state to be able to deal with my injury.
“What I learned last year and throughout this year, is there is more to life than footy and you have to have a balance if you're ever going to be any good.
“You can’t possibly just do one thing, you have to have that balanced perspective on everything, but it also does show you have some good people around you.”
Through her injury and the early stages of rehabilitation, she has discovered the generosity and support of the people in her life.
“The club doctors Liam and Rami, and my physio Matt, have been really supportive this whole time.
“I've had teammates driving me to and from training and my girlfriend and my parents have been amazing and super helpful too.”
What the 25-year-old wants others to know, above all, is that although she has been positive through this set back, it is okay to be vulnerable too.
“It’s okay to not be flying high all the time and if you are not feeling the best, go do something for yourself and come back with a new focus.
“It’s okay to admit it’s hard and it’s okay to admit you're struggling and that you need a break.”
As tough and hardworking as they come, Peschke’s focus is now simple:
“The biggest goal for me is to come out stronger, mentally, physically and emotionally, and I’ll do everything I can to play again.
“Hopefully, I’ll be back out there playing footy again one day.”