Ottawa Swans Australian Football Club centre Emma Dickinson capped off a tremendous season when she landed this season's Ontario Australian Football League rookie of the year award.
The 25-year-old Mooney's Bay resident joined the newly established Ottawa Swans women's club this year and it didn't take her long to cement her position on the team and to help the Swans to place second in the regular season.
"It was very cool to be able to receive the rookie of the year award. I was extremely honoured given that most players in the league this year were rookies," said Dickinson.
The Swans play in the Ontario Australian Football League (OAFL), which is one of the biggest leagues outside of Australia.
This year was special however, as it was the first time that Ottawa, and several other Ontario clubs fielded women's teams in the league.
"It was more profound because the entire league is essentially a league of rookies," said Dickinson.
The former Brookfield High School student was involved in the game a few months ago and said it is great to see it picking up momentum in Ontario.
"I have played almost everything under the sun - rugby, soccer, volleyball, basketball, you name it. I have tried everything and though this game is obscure in Canada and not well known, it really suits me and it came naturally to me," she said.
"I wish I had known about it sooner, I could have been playing this game for years."
Dickinson credits her success to having a good background in athletics.
"Yes, it was tough and I worked hard on the field, but I think I was fortunate to be named the rookie of the year," she said.
Australian football is played between two teams with an oval shaped ball. Each team has 18 players on the field at once for the four, 20-minute quarters, though women play under modified rules in OAFL games. Points are scored by kicking the ball through end zone posts, and the fast-paced game doesn't have the traditional downs stoppages American football has.
Dickinson plays centre and her role is to rove the entire field, following the ball and moving it from the defence to the offence.
"You are almost everywhere the ball goes," she said.
This summer, Dickinson and five of her teammates were named to the national team for the 49th Parallel Cup held in Dublin, Ohio.
The Canadian national team, was formed in 2007 and is known as the "Northern Lights".
"It was a huge honour to play for the national team. I had never imagined I would be a national-level calibre and I was very excited about that," said Dickinson.
Chris Lockhart, Ottawa Swans women's head coach was full of praise for Dickinson.
"She is a fantastic leader on and off the field, and the Swans are lucky to have her in our organization. I look forward to seeing what she brings to the pitch next season," said Lockhart, a former men's national team player. "Emma was a real pleasure to coach. She is very competitive, and determined. She is an amazingly talented athlete."
Being selected for team Canada was not only an achievement for Dickinson, but for the Ottawa Swans club as well, he said.
"It's a great accomplishment to be selected for team Canada, and named the rookie of the year for the OAFL all in the same season," he said. "I'm extremely proud to be a part of her success as her coach, it's a great feeling when I see my players progress and take the skills that I have taught them and put them into action with their own creative spin."