by Holly Slattery
A lionhearted approach to adversity on and off the field saw Taylor Smith (pictured) named Most Relentless Player at the Brisbane Lions’ Best & Fairest night.
The 22-year-old battled the loss of her father late last year but mustered the courage to charge through her second AFLW season with resilience and strength.
The former Bond player credits her late father Shaun, along with mum Tanya, for her determination to continue playing AFLW.
“Dad was the most resilient and hard-working person I know,” Smith said.
“He put so many hours into his work and always persisted with everything he did. He taught me what it meant to be resilient and relentless, and I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for him.
“Footy was always our thing; we bonded so closely over it so in a way I kept playing to feel closer to him.
“I also play for mum. She knew the bond Dad and I shared over football and she’s been nothing but resilient over the last six months.”
Being named the Most Relentless Player came as a surprise to Smith despite the remarkable adversities she faced during the season.
“I was pretty surprised to win the award, I wasn’t expecting it,” she said.
“It means a lot that the coaches recognised the position I was in and that other people may not have been able to keep going like I did.”
A former heptathlete, Smith played a total of 11 games for the Lions last season.
The Gold Coast local faced challenges from the start of her AFLW journey which saw her play just one game with the Suns, as a result of Covid, before being traded to the Lions.
In the interim, the rising star joined the Bull Sharks to test her strength in the QAFLW competition.
The move paid immediate dividends with Smith going on to play a key role as the Lions stormed to the AFLW premiership in her first season at the club.
She now says the Bond University club played a key role in the success she has enjoyed at Brisbane.
“They (the Bond coaches) knew my situation and took me in to help me get to where I wanted to be,” she said.
“Bond was always supportive of me and I still love supporting the girls when I can.”
Lucinda Pullar, another former Bull Shark, was named Best First Year Player at the awards, after a sensational AFLW debut.
Current Bond player and student Mikayla Pauga also played alongside Smith and Pullar as part of this season’s Brisbane Lions squad.