The Gold Coast SUNS would like to thank Ashlee Atkins for her contributions to the club as the 29-year-old announces her retirement.
Atkins, who joined the club ahead of Season Seven, announced her decision to her SUNS teammates and coaches on Thursday evening.
Atkins says she’ll look back fondly on her time on the Gold Coast and as a pioneer of the AFLW throughout a six-season career.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in some pretty amazing footy clubs and teams, both on-field and off-field, and this last season would be one of the fondest memories of my career,” Atkins said.
“It’s been wonderful coming over here. Everyone has been so supportive and it’s really wound back the clock for me being here.
“As much as I wish I could hang on for the success to come, it’s time for me to hang up the boots.
“I made the most of my opportunity. I didn’t know how long I was going to get.
“It was pretty exciting to be a pioneer for women’s footy. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but it’s something I’ll look back on and be very proud of.
“To see where the AFLW has gone from 2018 to now is just unbelievable. To see the young players come through now and know what’s hopefully ahead for them, it’s exciting.”
Atkins was drafted by Fremantle at Pick 26 in the 2017 AFL Women’s Draft, making her debut in Round 1 of the following campaign and going on to play 13 matches for the Dockers.
She then spent the next three seasons at the West Coast Eagles, twice recording a Top 10 finish in the club’s best and fairest.
Signed as a free agent by the SUNS, Atkins played five matches in SUNS colours, making her club debut in the Round 1 defeat against North Melbourne.
She finishes her career with 41 games and 10 goals to her name.
SUNS Head of Women’s Football Fiona Sessarago thanked Atkins for her contribution to the club.
“Ashlee has added plenty of experience to our AFLW program and has had significant influence among the playing group,” Sessarago said.
“Moving away from home is never easy, especially when it’s the whole way across the country and we would like to thank her for making the journey to play for the SUNS this season.
“She has had a fantastic AFLW career and, on behalf of everyone at the SUNS, we wish her all the best for what lies ahead in the future.”