FOLLOWING a series of interrupted seasons at the Demons, Maddy Guerin finally got an extended run on the park when she joined the Blues.
Coming into the 2020 season off an ACL injury, Guerin played a pivotal role for the Carlton midfield in the AFLW and VFLW seasons.
Guerin has relished playing at the Blues, with IKON Park having a special meaning to her.
"Princes Park has a special place for me as I went to school across the road so I know the area really well and it's been nice to come back to my roots in a way," Guerin said.
"Running out on the field with a big crowd, performing with your friends, nothing really can describe it, we all just love it so much."
Round 1 of the AFLW season was a particularly special moment for Guerin, who had spent the previous season on the sidelines following an ACL injury while at Melbourne.
After a strong off-season in a rehabilitation program for her knee, Guerin was able to run out with her teammates onto IKON Park.
"Even though we lost, just running out with the Carlton Football Club, coming back from my knee, experiencing a Club debut with a few other girls, it was really special," she said.
"There's nothing like it."
Guerin noted that the experience of coming to a new Club as a young player with an injury was daunting, but she was happy to be alongside ex-Melbourne teammate Elise O'Dea.
The AFLW veteran was a pillar of support for Guerin - though she won't admit it herself - and gave Guerin a touchpoint to bounce off through her recovery and into the season.
"I think because Elise knew me before my injury, she knew my strengths, she knew how I played before so she could really help me tap into that," she said.
"She kind of reminded me of my strengths and that was cool to have when I was trying to prove myself to all my new teammates and the coaches.
"It was nice to have someone in my corner or someone to talk to if I was feeling stressed or feeling like I wasn't where I needed to be."
Guerin backed up a solid AFLW season with an even stronger VFLW season, finishing second in the Blues' VFLW Best and Fairest count.
VFLW Senior Coach Luke O'Shannessy noted that his side was very fortunate to have Guerin playing for them, with her explosiveness and penetrating kicks the highlights of her game.
"Her explosiveness was evident around the contest, where we would often see a nimble side-step followed by break-neck speed that was simply unstoppable and often culminating with one of the most penetrating kicks in the game at either level," O'Shannessy said.
"In the latter part of her VFLW season, Maddie would split her time back/mid and was able to have a major impact around the stoppages which was perfectly evidenced in round 11 against Casey where she was able to turn the momentum of the game in our favour through some pivotal clearances and forward-half pressure.
"Averaging 22.5 disposals across her six games this season, it is no surprise to see her feature so prominently in the 2021 awards."