With the first elite women’s AFL season drawing to a close, Collingwood captain Steph Chiocci is proud of what her team has achieved in a few short months.
The bar was set high as the season kicked off with February’s historic game at Ikon Park, which saw a clash of sworn rivals Carlton and Collingwood.
The match drew a crowd of 24,500, with capacity concerns prompting a lockout. The spectators who made their way inside bristled with anticipation as the dramatic game kicked off.
For Chiocci, it is a moment she will never forget.
“Standing there while the anthem was being sung... it gave me goosebumps,” she said.
“That kickstarted what was a really competitive and entertaining season. It just gained momentum from there.”
While the season might have only just finished, Chiocci is already back in training and looking forward to the next round.
The 28-year-old’s reputation as a serious and dedicated athlete is well-deserved.
Born into a family of staunch Carlton supporters, (“I’ve been a member of the Carlton footy club since I was about two”) Chiocci fell in love with the game at an early age. That passion grew throughout her school years at Catholic Ladies’ College in Eltham.
To this day, she is somewhat of a legend there.
Remembered for her positive attitude, her occasional cheekiness, and her commitment to the field, for former teacher and sporting coordinator Debbie O’Neill, it is no surprise where Chiocci has ended up.
“At CLC she always had that natural ability, that natural flair... she had a spark. We loved that about her,” O’Neill said.
“We had her in all the teams. She was always willing to give everything a go – it didn’t matter what it was, she was pretty good at everything.”
“Today, we’ve got lots of girls who play and they look up to her. They get very excited when they see a past student who has made it to play AFL, and is a captain.”
“They’re very much in awe of her; she’s a bit of a role model.”
While Chiocci is synonymous with AFL, as a student, her sport of choice was anything and everything.
“I loved being at CLC and I loved being a part of the sporting team…They were really great memories,” she said “I’m surprised I didn’t play in the bocce team! Any sport that was available, I jumped at.”
“We were really spirited and passionate about what we were doing. We had a bit of pride each time we represented CLC, because we were quite successful.”
Chiocci was also successful academically, earning her VCE at CLC before going on to complete qualifications in sport and recreation at Victoria University and gaining a Bachelor of Applied Science and Physical Education at RMIT.
While it has been some time since her CLC days, for Chiocci, showing young women what is possible in sport remains somewhat of a mission.
“It’s quite humbling to be called an icon or a role model. I think one day, when I reflect on my career and what I’ve achieved in my football, I’ll realise how important it was.”
“I just love doing what I’m doing and if that inspires girls to be active and follow their dreams, then I’m pretty happy with that.”