It’s been a remarkable rise for new SUNS AFLW co-captain Hannah Dunn.
Fighting for a place on an AFLW list just 18 months ago, she now finds herself holding one of the most coveted positions in the league as a club captain.
The 29-year-old always had a leadership position in her sights for 2021, but when SUNS AFLW Coach David Lake broke the news to her, Dunn said it took some time to sink in.
“I can’t remember exactly what he said but when he asked if I wanted to be captain I was honestly so surprised and asked if he was being serious,” Dunn told SUNS Media.
“I told my partner Hayden that night and had to keep it under wraps until it was announced to the girls the next day.
“Everyone was genuinely really happy for me which was nice.”
It’s not Dunn’s first foray as a leader.
Before being drafted by the SUNS and given an opportunity in the first season of AFLW by GWS, Dunn was toiling away in the AFL Canberra competition for the Queanbeyan Tigers.
She was named captain of Queanbeyan at the age of 21 and went on to become the first woman to reach 100 games for the club, resulting in her induction as a full playing member of the club.
She built a reputation as one of the leading pioneers in ACT women’s football, eventually having a development academy named in her honour at the Tigers.
Dunn’s learnt vital skills from her time at the helm which she says has translated into the AFLW arena.
“I was still quite young when I was captaining at Queanbeyan,” she said.
“It kind of forces you to grow up in terms of having to speak in front of big groups of people, having to take responsibility for the team and that type of thing.
“It’s also about knowing how your team clicks and how to get them up and about and how to get reactions out of players.”
Now Dunn will be using that same blueprint she established at Queanbeyan to put her own stamp on the SUNS.
“I want to instil a good family culture within the team and the entire club,” Dunn said.
“I want everyone who walks in the door to feel a part of this club and feel valued, because then they can perform at their best.
“When you’re most comfortable that’s when you’re going to get the best out of your whole team and club.”
Dunn will take the reins alongside inaugural captain Sam Virgo in 2021, and says she can’t wait to work with her co-captain to develop her own leadership style further.
“I’m really looking forward to learning from her because her strengths are probably my weaknesses,” Dunn said.
“She is a different personality type to me but it will help me learn how to have those difficult conversations.
“I’m not someone who likes drama and conflict but there is a point, especially as captain, to take responsibility for things like that.
“It’s about learning from her strengths and adding them to my repertoire, not changing who I am but adding a few things which she’s really good at.”
Dunn will get her first opportunity to lead the team on the field when the SUNS take on the Melbourne Demons on January 30 at Metricon Stadium.