BRISBANE dynamo Sophie Conway is back fitter and hungrier to succeed than ever after overcoming a ruptured ACL that wiped out her 2019 season.
Conway is no stranger to fighting through adversity – losing her mum to brain cancer in 2017 – so it comes as no surprise how positive she is about the upcoming season.
Speaking to womens.afl, the 20-year-old said it hadn't been all smooth sailing, but she'd made the best of a bad situation and now wouldn't change a thing.
"There was a lot of ups and downs (through rehab)," Conway said.
"Anyone that has been through it will know. You've just got to find a way and battle through it.
"The work's not going to do itself."
Conway was a revelation for the Lions in 2018, kicking five goals from her six games and showing a creative flair well beyond her then teenage years.
She won a Rising Star nomination during the season and the last time she played at the highest level, Conway was kicking the first goal of the Grand Final against the Western Bulldogs.
However, disaster struck three months later, rupturing her ACL at training, sending her on an emotional rollercoaster that included visits to a psychologist.
"I did keep to myself a little bit," Conway said.
"I don't like putting burdens on anyone else. It sounds bad, but that's the type of person I am."
"Twelve months before I'd lost my mum.
"Once it all came crashing down and I was in bed for six to eight weeks (post-surgery) thinking, your brain ticks over quite a bit.
"I can't thank dad enough, he dealt with me with every emotion possible. One minute I was happy and the next minute I was down in the dumps, he was always there to pick me back up."
Like most athletes in rehab, Conway set herself little goals, and said while her dad helped her emotionally, it was Brisbane high performance coach Matt Green that helped physically.
At the Lions' recent 2km time trial, she showed off that improvement, taking a huge chunk off her personal best and placing in the top five.
Conway is thoughtful and mature beyond her years and said the whole experience had taught her a lot.
FULL FIXTURE Every round, every game
"I would not change the last 16 to 18 months," she said.
"I've learnt a lot about myself physically and mentally.
"I feel like my end point is never good enough, I'm always wanting to continue to get better in every little aspect.
FOLLOW THE LEADER Your club's 2020 captain and leadership group
"My first season I was enjoying the ride and now I know I can push myself and give a lot more.
"I never want to go through it again, but I've been through it and in hindsight – I wouldn't say it was the best thing for me – but I tried my absolute best to take the best from the shitty situation."