If you scratch beneath the surface, so many of the AFLW contenders this season have amazing backstories. But you'd be hard-pressed to find one more inspiring than Kate McCarthy's.
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McCarthy was born with a condition that caused her heart to stop beating, resulting in a pacemaker by 12-years-old and a future without contact sports...or so her family thought.
"A asked me to play that first AFL game," McCarthy told womens.afl.
"I made sure my mum didn’t find out because as far as everyone was concerned, I wasn’t allowed to play contact sport.
"I played that game and thought, 'Oh my God I need to go and see my cardiologist and see if he’ll allow me to play' because I really loved it.
"Being so close to the surface of the skin it’s a little bit painful if it gets a direct knock, but beyond that it doesn’t stop me doing anything."
Beyond the inspiring nature of her obstacle-overcoming journey to make it to the premier level of the sport, McCarthy's background in teaching and keen interest in media means her value to the game extends far beyond her valiant on-field achievements for St Kilda.
Her mentoring role for young girls is key to not only the future growth of the sport, but the individual futures of the girls she mentors. In her own spare time, she role-models by example, working with St Kilda's media department.
"I’m interested in the off-field, transitioning from school to being a football player, making sure they have other things going on in their lives so they’re not just consumed with football," she said.
"That role is something that I really enjoy, and with the young girls that we have at St Kilda, it’s going to be really important to make sure that they have longevity in their careers."
"I’m learning a lot of things that I want to be able to do either while I’m still playing or at the end of the season.
"I’m trying to add a few more strings to my bow so that I’m not just in front of the camera – I can edit, I can produce, and be able to push out content."