Gold Coast SUNS draftee Dee Heslop thought her AFLW dream might have slipped away when she was told she required surgery on her shoulder in August.
Heslop had originally hurt her shoulder in June, but managed the injury through her draft year so she could play as much football as possible.
After the season, she consulted a specialist, with an MRI revealing surgery was the best course of action to mend her troublesome injury.
But some intensive rehab has her on track to return as soon as November – just in time for the AFLW pre-season she will now take part in after joining the Gold Coast SUNS with pick 69 in the AFLW draft.
“It’s obviously amazing,” Heslop told SUNS Media.
“All your hard work has finally payed off seeing your name read out is just amazing and I can’t wait to start pre-season.
“I think just seeing all the girls get picked up (before me) was really exciting so you’re just hoping you get picked up as well.”
While her talks with the club had been positive in the lead-up to the draft, Heslop still had some doubt whether she would be picked up with one of the club’s eight selections.
When she was taken with Gold Coast’s sixth selection, it was an even bigger surprise after expecting to be selected with the club’s last or second-last pick if it was to eventuate.
Her mother Jo was the first person Dee embraced after hearing her name read out, the pair of them equally speechless.
“Overwhelming,” Jo said when asked her reaction to the news.
“We’ve waited so long for this and the work, the travelling, the hours put in for the last couple of years and then the hiccup with the shoulder surgery.
“It was a little bump in the road but she managed to get over that so I’m extremely proud of her for coming out the other end and finally getting drafted and fulfilling her dream.
“As a parent you can’t be more proud of your child and when something this big happens, you just take these opportunities and grasp them because you never get these opportunities back again.
“It’s going to be exciting the next journey now.”