2019 was full of big moments for Erin Phillips - moments of pure joy and devastating heartbreak.
The Crows superstar cemented her place in AFLW history when she became a dual premiership captain and dual League best and fairest... but the year was not without its challenges.
En route to her second best on ground in a grand final award, the Crows co-captain silenced the 53,034 plus crowd when she went down clutching her left knee.
“It was just an unfortunate change of direction, I tried to chase my opponent and overstepped,” Phillips told AFC Media.
“As soon as I turned, I heard this horrific crack and pop and basically went straight down in pain.
“I knew exactly what I’d done.
“It was obviously quite painful, but being it was a grand final, I was just shattered because I knew there was probably no chance of getting back on the field.”
Reflecting in the days that followed, Phillips was overwhelmed by the support she received from her teammates, opposition and fans.
“At the time, I didn’t really take it all in - I was still in devastation mode, but it was really nice to have my teammates and the opposition team support me,” Phillips said.
“It’s something I rewatched and (I) was really appreciative - it was a special moment out of something pretty terrible.”
The injury, however, did nothing to halt Phillips’ being being named best on ground for the second time in her career.
“It was a great honour, but that award could have been given to a number of girls out there,” Phillips said.
“I actually only watched the game for the first time a week ago and I was blown away by how many fantastic performances there were all round.”
The W Awards
Two days after the grand final and injury, Phillips was on a plane to the W Awards in Melbourne, where she claimed her second AFLW best and fairest award in three years.
“That was another incredible honour, with so many fantastic players in my team and across the league,” Phillips said.
“We had a fantastic season as a group and those awards are an extension of what we were able to accomplish together.”
In the weeks that followed, she underwent reconstructive surgery, before hopping on a 20-hour flight to her second home in Texas.
As she returned to her coaching position at the Dallas Wings, in the WNBA, she struggled with the restrictions that came with her injury.
“I don’t recommend flying with an ACL…,” Phillips said with a laugh.
“It was actually really tough, I’m the type of coach that is very active, so for me, it was really difficult.
“The Dallas Wings were great at supporting me through it and making sure I was taking care of myself as much as possible and being the best coach I can be.”
Unfortunately for Phillips, this wasn’t the first time she’d gone down with an ACL tear.
Having endured the injury back in 2006, she was prepared for what was to come.
“Being through it before has helped me, I’ve experienced the difficult days and understood this time that they are normal,” Phillips said.
“You have moments where you think maybe i’ll never get back to running let alone playing physical AFL.
“Sometimes you think ‘am I ever going to be the same’, ‘will I ever get to the stage where I can run and have a normal life’?
“I knew I was going to give it everything and make it happen and I’m gonna make sure I try to get back out there”
“And if it happens, great, and if it doesn’t, well I’m never going to look back and say I didn’t give it my best shot.”
In the middle of her rehabilitation, on the final day of July, Phillips and wife Tracy welcomed their third child into the world - Drew Chayce Phillips.
A younger brother to twins Brooklyn and Blake, Drew became a welcome focus for the now mother of three.
“It was a great distraction from having to go through an ACL,” Phillips said.
“It was awesome to balance out the girl count in our family, Blake was pretty happy to have another boy in the family.
“People say if you have twins, you can have anything, so it’s actually been so much easier having one (baby) than two.
“He’s actually been a really good baby... he probably knew that mum’s going through some rehab so takes it easy on me.”
For Phillips, the goal has always been to make it back for the 2020 season, but Round One is no certainty.
“I’m obviously planning to try to get back for Round One, but unfortunately I can’t predict that far into the future,” Phillips said.
“But I’m doing everything I can (and) I’m feeling really good, things have been really positive since I’ve been back and the training I’ve been doing.
“If I get the all clear, I’ll be there (Round One)”