THE PAY-OFF for six-hour round trips to training and games is within touching distance for Tarni Evans.
Having spent some time making the trek from hometown Tathra (on the New South Wales south coast) up to Queanbeyan to play in the AFL Canberra League, Evans is poised to be selected in the NSW portion of the NAB AFLW Draft on October 6.
Last year, at just 17, she made the shift to ive in Queanbeyan for footy and school, moving in with older sister Bronte.
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"I started playing footy at 14 with the Tathra Eagles' women's team, because there were no junior teams at that point. My brother's girlfriend played, so I joined in with her and a few of my mates," Evans told womens.afl.
Evans represented Tathra for three seasons, the third being a cross-over year which saw her also play with Queanbeyan.
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"I had SESA (South East Sports Academy) training in Canberra, so I was going up with three other mates on a Wednesday anyway. The seniors trained that night, so I would do a SESA session then have a run with the Queanbeyan team," she said.
"My brother Kel was playing for the club at the time, and he was living with the women's captain Hannah Dunn (now at Gold Coast), so I ended up getting involved with them through that.
"I couldn't stay there after training because I'd have school the next day, so it was a bit of a trek back home. My parents have been so good, I don't know how they did it, to be honest.
"Since I got my licence, I've done the trip a few times, and it's like, 'oh, I can't believe they did it all these years'. I'm definitely appreciative of it."
With Bronte a vegetarian, Evans said she is doing a lot of her own cooking, while juggling year 12 at Erindale College and the demands of top-level footy.
"My go-to meal is probably just a whole heap of roast veg and a steak," she said with a laugh.
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At 180cm, Evans is the same height as Carlton ruck Breann Moody, but is currently playing most of her footy on the wing.
An athletics and soccer background has helped develop her running capacity, and her "big left foot" is more than handy when setting up entries inside 50.
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"Crossing to football, it was the contact side of the game that got me. It's so much more nerve-racking and you get the adrenaline pumping, so I love that stuff," she said.
A member of the NAB AFLW Academy, Evans spent an eye-opening week training with GWS in January.
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"It's just such a different level, their professionalism and intensity with it all, it's just so cool," Evans said.
"That was one of the hottest week's Sydney's had – or that I've experienced anyway.
"It was wild. It was so hot, but there's no way you would have picked it by watching the girls. Their professionalism meant they were so well hydrated, they were all over it."
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