Gabby O’Sullivan – Part 1: ‘They call me Mitts’

Gabby O'Sullivan at training. Picture: fremantlefc.com.au

Ever since Fremantle joined the AFLW at its inception, foundations players like Gabby O’Sullivan have been building towards the ultimate goal.

2020 looked like the Dockers’ year after they went undefeated for the entire season, but when no Premier was crowned due to COVID, the team was left to grabble with the unprecedented reality and harshness of the situation.

While the club acknowledges that 2021 is a new challenge, it isn’t afraid to draw on the past, with “Unfinished Business” being used as the official tagline for this season.

“It certainly made us start our pre-season training with a bit of a chip on our shoulder with that unfinished business. But we acknowledge that it’s a new season, teams have changed and the comp has changed,” O’Sullivan told The Inner Sanctum.

“We didn’t know last year when we were playing Gold Coast in the final that that was going to be it, so for us we kind of have that mentality where we’re just going to make the most of it.

“At the end of the day it’s just a sport, there are people out there battling far worse things than our season potentially getting cut short, we’re just really grateful for every day we have on the track and every game we get to play.”

This season has also been far from normal, with every team living one week at a time for the majority of the year.

Fremantle had to deal with the five-day lockdown in WA and went on the road with the expectation that it could be away from home for several weeks (though this did not end up eventuating).

“It’s been a rollercoaster and I think it’s galvanised the group quite a bit. When we went over to Adelaide we weren’t really sure how long we were going to be gone for, so we kind of prepared for it to have no end date,” O’Sullivan said.

“With how topsy turvy it’s been and with the period of the WA lockdown, it’s just made every single game that you play even more sweeter, especially when you get the win. Because you never know when it’s going to be your last game, anything could happen.”

Despite the unpredictable nature of this season, Fremantle hasn’t lowered its standards on the field.

While its 11-game undefeated streak came to an end against Brisbane, the Dockers are well placed to make a deep finals run.

O’Sullivan and her fellow forwards have been a big part of this, with each of them capable of breaking a game open in a matter of minutes.

“Each year we try to keep the lines pretty much the same, but everyone who’s come into the forward line has added something. Sarah Verrier’s so young and she can switch forward and back, so she’s been great,” she said.

“Gemma Houghton, Sabreena Duffy and Roxy Roux, everyone down there is so dangerous. It’s not really a case of who’s kicking the goals, it’s how many we kick.”

O’Sullivan has also been making gains off the field, with her self-appointed nickname “Mitts” catching on after she appeared on Fremantle’s “Kickin’ Back” AFLW podcast.

She started calling herself Mitts after Trent Cooper (Fremantle’s coach) praised her making ability and it has recently started to take on a life of its own.

“The podcast was probably the best thing for the nickname to take off. Now it kind of has I’m not really sure what to do, it was a bit of fun when nobody really wanted to call me that because I was persisting with it,” she said.

“It’s been about three years in the making and every week if I take at least one okay mark I kind of smirk a bit because in my head I’ve got ‘they call me Mitts’ playing in my head.

“It’s been funny and I did get a singlet from a fan, it’s been nice to be recognised by my preferred nickname. I even hear people in the stands yell out Mitts to me, so I always acknowledge those ones when I hear it.”

While the Dockers’ end goal is the same as every other club, silverware would mean even more after what the club has been through.

After two heartbreaking finals exists across the last two seasons, Fremantle is looking to add the Premiership that has alluded it.

“I think it would be a special thing for the club, the team and even the supporters, we’ve got a lot of passionate Freo supporters out there who have been with us since the start.”

“It would be very special, without getting ahead of ourselves, for the girls who have been in it from that start. Even for someone like Kiara Bowers who missed the first couple of years because of injury.”

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About Hamish Spence 52 Articles
Hamish writes about Aussie Rules, cricket, basketball and all things Tasmanian sport for The Inner Sanctum. His experience includes working for organisations like 10 News First, AFL Tasmania, The Mercury, the TSL, the Hobart Hurricanes and Draft Central. He recently finished a media degree at The University of Tasmania.

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