LIFE has moved pretty quickly for star Fremantle draftee Dana East, who first picked up a footy in 2019.
The 19-year-old East's first love was basketball, captaining Western Australia at junior tournaments in 2016 and 2018 and representing the state right up to under-20 level, before picking up footy in year 12 for a bit of fun.
On Sunday, she polled five votes in the AFLCA AFLW champion player of the year award, in just her second game at the top level, with her sharp hands and tenacity in the midfield and up forward impressing.
"It's been a great experience, the girls have been amazing in supporting me and the other new draftees coming in. The game itself has just been incredible to play, it's been some of the best moments of my life so far," East told womens.afl.
"From country footy to WAFLW is a big step, but I've found even from WAFLW to AFLW, the pace and skill and execution is a lot better, so it's great to keep jumping up levels."
East played her sole year of junior footy in 2019 at Manjimup, a small town 300km south of Perth, and then in 2020 moved to Donnybrook, an hour up the road, in the South West Football League.
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A shift to Perth then followed, with her one season at Swan Districts earning an invite to the 2021 NAB AFLW Draft Combine.
The Dockers pounced, drafting the tough midfielder with pick No.31, the fourth overall in the West Australian pool.
"I didn't know if I'd get a WAFLW game, to be honest, but I gave it a shot and it's been a bit of a rollercoaster, but a great experience," East said.
"I'd been full on with basketball, and I thought I'd give it a change, and I just fell in love with footy straight away.
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"With football, the culture means there's so many people and support around you, it's a great team environment. It's good having a chat after a game, whereas basketball you go your separate ways straight after a game. It's like another little family."
Much has been made already of the close connection between East and AFLW best and fairest Kiara Bowers, with the youngster closely following the vice-captain's every step at training.
"I try and follow her around as much as possible, because I know she's one of the best players in the competition going around," she said.
"She's playing in one of my roles in the midfield, so I'm just trying to learn as much as I can in the next few years, and it's the best way to up my skills, going against the best.
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"I was looking through photos of when I was playing at Donnybrook, and I thought back then I didn't actually know what a 'sweeper' (midfield role at the back of the pack) was, and now I'm here playing AFLW, so it's pretty crazy, but I couldn't be more thankful."
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