IN NOVEMBER 2019, Ann McMahon was just like Freo’s six other new draftees – training hard and motivated to debut for Fremantle in the upcoming season.
But on Christmas Eve, her world was turned upside down when she was struck by a stolen car while working as a police officer, breaking her left leg and rupturing her ACL.
The midfielder/forward from East Fremantle was highly rated by Freo’s recruiters going into the draft, taken with the club’s third pick behind the talented Roxy Roux and Mim Strom.
Even though McMahon’s hopes of playing football in 2020 were wiped out in an instant, she wasn’t willing to let go of her AFLW dream.
Eight months on, McMahon is well on the road to recovery and her hard work was rewarded with a second chance through a contract for 2021.
"I’m still feeling a little bit lost for words. I was always hopeful that the club saw enough in last pre-season to consider re-signing me. There was a bit of uncertainty with my injuries so it definitely wasn’t a sure thing," McMahon said.
"I’m just extremely grateful for the opportunity. I was always hopeful that it would happen, I just wasn’t sure how the body would hold up.
"The whole journey has been physically and mentally exhausting. It definitely hasn’t been pretty but I guess the uglier the journey, the more incredible the destination.
"I’m just super happy and super grateful."
Fremantle went unbeaten in 2020 with McMahon on the sidelines, but senior coach Trent Cooper told her she had a big impact on the group and on the team’s culture.
"Trent told me that my resilience, just being around the club and watching on at training, made everyone else think that they didn’t have an excuse, that they could go the extra mile," McMahon said.
"I wanted to get around the girls and have some impact from the sidelines … to make sure they had a good season and they could perform as planned.
"If that was my role at that time, then all I could do was play that role. I’m glad that 'Coops' (Cooper), 'Frysy' (AFLW manager Darryn Fry) and the girls noticed that."
Before the incident, 2019 had been a very positive year for McMahon, getting drafted and marrying her wife Issy.
McMahon said the difficult times that followed the incident only made their marriage stronger.
"I’m obviously immensely thankful to Issy," McMahon said.
"For the last seven months, she’s been absolutely incredible in some horrific circumstances.
"I’m forever grateful to her and I think that what we’ve been through has made us stronger. I know that she’ll always stand by my side and we’ll be stronger than ever."
While McMahon has been an inspiration to her teammates and co-workers in her quick recovery, she said she couldn’t have gotten through it without them.
"I don’t think I would be in the position I am now without the support of so many people," McMahon said.
"From my colleagues on the day and afterwards and all the emergency services that were involved in the first instance and then the entirety of the Fremantle Football Club, the playing group and the staff. The list goes on.
"I don’t think that I would have been in such a great position to be considered for a new contract if it wasn’t for the support of all those people."