For Maddy Prespakis, her third Carlton AFLW Best and Fairest win might have come as a surprise.
However, for those who have watched the young Blues’ 2022 season, it made plenty of sense.
In a season where the 21-year-old midfielder averaged 21 disposals and four clearances, Prespakis was proudest of the return that she received from the hard work she put in the off-season.
“I’m really honoured: I guess it just shows that hard work pays off,” Prespakis said.
“I feel like in the off-season, I actually worked really hard and put in the extra hours to run: it has paid off.
Not having her career-best season in 2021, Prespakis walked away unsatisfied with her game and devoted her off-season to bettering herself.
“At the end of last season I probably didn’t feel I gave the girls the best input that I know I can give," she said.
"That was my aim in the off-season. I wanted to be able to give four quarters to the girls, to the girls that I love playing with.
“If I can give them four quarters, then I know I’m playing my role.”
Prespakis was particularly thankful to her captain - and runner-up - Kerryn Harrington, who pushed the young Blue during the off-season to help her reach new levels in 2022.
Extra running outside of the program, with some Harrington-inspired competition, was ultimately the difference in Prespakis’ award-winning year.
"She made me chase her around all pre-season around and athletics track,” she said.
“If anyone knows Kerryn, she’s not the easiest person to keep up with — she kept me accountable and I did the running with her and a few other girls.
“It has paid off: I'd probably just say thanks to her.”
What comes next for the 21 year old, who also has an AFLW Best and Fairest and a NAB AFLW Rising Star to go along with her three Carlton AFLW Best and Fairest medals?
Growth, development and leaving a legacy on the game she loves.
“I just want to keep getting better," she said.
"One day, when I finish playing footy, I want to be someone like Daisy Pearce and Erin Phillips and leave a legacy.
“For me, it’s definitely keep getting better every year, keep getting fitter, keep getting stronger and keep working on my game. I’m only 21 and I’d like to think that I’ve got another 10 years ahead of me.”