Dragons captain Winnie Laing was beginning to piece together an imposing season.
Averaging 20 disposals to go with three tackles and two marks per game, Laing led the Dragons to a 2-1 start before the season came to its halt.
It comes as the first pause in an otherwise rapidly progressing football journey for the inside midfielder, which began at Port Melbourne as a 14-year-old.
“I first played basketball, then it was athletics, and was athletics for a while,” Laing said.
“[But] a couple of my friends kept telling me to get down to Port Melbourne.”
From there, things accelerated fast.
Laing made the Sandringham team in the same season, and only a year later, was selected for the Vic Metro under-16s.
“It was a big shock,” Laing recounted.
“I didn’t even know what Vic Metro was. They handed me a letter, I was like, what is this?
“When we showed up for training, we found out we were actually in the team, which was a big shock.”
It was an experience which helped Laing grow both as a person and a footballer, providing the third-year Dragon with the tools to perform in high-pressure environments.
“I used to be pretty stressed and often felt under pressure,” she said.
“From that environment, with a whole range of different girls, we were all still supporting each other even though we didn’t know each other.
“Now, especially that I’m really close with all the Sandy girls, being able to have people support you helps you forget about stress and just play.”
Combined with the influence of Dragons head coach Tam Hyett, it helped shape Laing’s leadership qualities, too, with a firm emphasis on building supportive relationships.
“Being involved in different teams over the years, you don’t really like the big dominant leaders,” she said.
“This year with Tam as well, being such a good coach and being so friendly to all of us, it’s about everyone being involved and not being super overpowering, but as a leadership team all being leaders to help everyone.
“[Tam’s] an influential role model who has given us girls good guidance throughout the season.”
Now, with the NAB League Girls competition set to resume on September 5, the skipper appears well-placed to add to an impressive football résumé.
For Laing, it was the hope of an eventual season restart which helped maintain motivation before the league’s recommencement date was announced.
“The whole time I’ve just tried to stay positive,” she explained.
“I’ve kept training the whole time, in the back of my head just saying we will be playing, so I think that helped a lot.”
And, as a strong ball-winner, it’s no surprise who Laing aims to emulate on the field.
“I love Patty Cripps, even though I’m a Richmond supporter,” she said.
“For the girls, I love Erin Phillips. And all of the young girls coming out of the NAB League, being able to see that is pretty cool.”
With another three games scheduled to complete a shortened six-game season, Laing will set her sights on the ultimate goal of being drafted, while striving to become the best possible leader.