30/05/2024

Hannah Ewings earned an AFLW Rising Star nomination in Round 3. (Photos: SANFL; AFL; Design: Will Cuckson)

Port Adelaide AFLW Rising Star nominee Hannah Ewings faced an eight-and-a-half-hour road trip multiple times a week to continue her path to the top level of football.

Born and raised in Whyalla, the teenage apprentice chef couldn’t continue playing for local club Roopena after aging out of the under 14 bracket, where she played against the boys.

The solution was jumping in the car with her mum and dad to head to trainings and matches in the state capital. First, it was for the Macca’s Shield and division one footy, before eventually making her SANFLW debut at 15.

Ewings comes from a sports-mad family, with basically every member being involved in some kind of sport in one way or another.

Speaking to The Inner Sanctum after earning her nomination, she is incredibly grateful for the support they’ve offered along the way.

“My two brothers and my dad were playing footy, and they got me into it,” Ewings explained.

“At the time, I was also playing basketball, cricket, netball, all of that. Got into football and I enjoyed that more than other sports.

“[The round trip] was pretty tiring, and my parents did sacrifice a lot, so very thankful that they did put that time and effort into me to pursue what I wanted to do as an AFL player.

“I’d usually just sleep, or talk to mum and dad, catch up on life. Then I was able to get my license, and they came with me when I started driving.”

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A clear talent from those early SANFLW days, Ewings quickly gained notoriety from scouts for her tenacity at the contest and the completeness of her midfield game.

Even in her three AFLW games, she’s demonstrated that so far. Her Rising Star nomination was a reward for her inside work against Carlton, racking up 21 disposals and 12 contested possessions.

But even in the first two rounds against the Eagles and Bulldogs, she showed an eye for defensive play. When caught behind the footy, Ewings picked up marks and launched the ball back into attack for her side.

With a strong sporting mind for a player so young, she explained what set footy apart from everything else for her.

“I just think I’m a very passionate person… I’m very hard at the ball… I like the physicality of the game,” Ewings said.

“The boys brought the best out of me, and I wanted to continue that. I just really enjoyed it.”

Talented junior to draft jet

Ewings credits much of her development so far to the time she spent in the SANFLW.

The sporting landscape of women’s footy still sees the most talented juniors pushing into the state pathways early, particularly outside of Victoria without the NAB League.

Many of the South Australian based AFLW players will return to the league after the conclusion of the AFLW season, drawing an extra bit of experience out.

Crows star midfielder Ebony Marinoff famously won the best on ground medal in the 2021 Grand Final for Glenelg, getting the club over the line against West Adelaide.

“I made my debut at 15, [and] I was basically exposed to that higher level,” Ewings explained.

“Being so young, it really made me a better person and player. We had Anne Hatchard and Ash Woodland coming through and playing with us, so they taught me a lot of things before I headed off and got drafted.

“Krissie [Steen] is an amazing coach, and she taught me a lot of things. There’s a lot of experience around SANFLW, and they’ve helped me become what I am now too.”

Hannah Ewings celebrates a goal for North Adelaide. (Photo: NAFC)

Another critical part of her development was her time spent in the Crows Academy, learning from some of the league’s very best.

While playing against senior figures in the SANFLW was one thing, learning from them more directly gave Ewings a different perspective on what it means to be an AFLW player.

“That was probably my first opportunity that I got to see a higher level,” she said.

“I got to [work with] Chelsea Randall, MJ [Mariana Rajcic], a couple of the younger girls teaching us each of the sessions.

“They gave us what it was like to have the experience in the industry, and that really helped me move forward and decide that this is what I actually wanted to do.”

With her focus fully on football as her primary goal, Ewings accelerated through the ranks and was quickly rated as South Australia’s top draft prospect in 2022.

After representing her state in the U18 Championships and looking right at home, averaging 21 disposals and two goals, she was selected by Port Adelaide with its first selection, and pick three overall.

Since being with the Power, she’s yet to take a backwards step. She debuted in Round 1 and is already flying with stellar performances like last weekend’s.

Ewings credits the confidence she’s been playing with to the leaders around her.

“I just think that’s the culture that we have around our group of girls. The girls have really gotten around me,” she said.

“They’ve made me truly believe in myself, and just know that if I keep to my strengths and my weapons, I’ll be fine.

“Being around Erin Phillips, Juzzy [Mules], Ange Foley, couple of the more experienced girls, they’ve guided me through the last three games. I can’t be any more thankful for them either.”

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