Young Fremantle midfielder Dana East has been recognised for her individual efforts at the weekend, earning a round nine NAB AFLW Rising Star nomination for her performance against Melbourne at Optus Stadium.
In the absence of experienced midfield regulars Gabby O’Sullivan and Kiara Bowers, East stood tall to support skipper Hayley Miller through the middle.
East won 18 disposals of her own, as well as seven tackles and three clearances.
The individual accolade caps off an impressive debut season for East, who has regularly run through the midfield for Freo in 2022.
“I’m a bit in shock, I didn’t expect it at all,” East said.
“Following the game against Adelaide last week, ‘Coops’ (Trent Cooper) told us about our mindset, and I really focused on that during the week heading into Melbourne.
“I knew that Gabby would be out this week and then we had the surprise outs late due to the AFL’s Health and Safety Protocols.
“I really put pressure on myself to step up.”
The 19-year-old’s first love was basketball, captaining Western Australia at junior tournaments in 2016 and 2018 and representing the state right up to under-20 level, before picking up footy in year 12 for a bit of fun.
From taking up footy just three years ago, East’s confidence has only grown and she said the opportunity to play on Optus Stadium for the first time on Saturday was a ‘dream come true.’
“That was amazing, it is so much better when you’re actually on the turf and not just in the stands,” East said.
“I couldn’t believe how big it was, that was a dream come true as well.
“My confidence has grown over the season, the first couple of games I was super nervous and found it really hard to calm down.
“Now that I am getting the gist of it and getting a routine in, it’s been great.
“I’m sure with each week that comes, I’ll just continue to grow.”
It is the first time in the Club’s history that Fremantle have had three Rising Star nominations within the same AFLW season, following young defender Sarah Verrier’s round four nomination, and crafty forward Mikayla Morrison’s nomination in round six.
East has been nominated alongside Nell Morris-Dalton from the Western Bulldogs as the two NAB AFLW Rising Star nominees for round nine.
All AFLW players born in 2001, 2002 or 2003 and who have not previously been nominated as a Rising Star qualify for consideration for the award.
The winner of the NAB AFLW Rising Star award will be announced at the 2022 W Awards later in the year.