When AFLW player Hannah Priest was named recipient of St Kilda Football Club’s Crest Award last week, it wouldn’t have come as a surprise to her teammates.

Partly because it was them who voted for her, but also because the values the award recognises are the definition of Hannah.

It also likely would have come as a surprise to Hannah’s former fellow school students at Werrimull P-12 School. Her Dad was the principal of the school for some time, her mum a teacher there.

Despite my age, it seems disrespectful to refer to them even now as anything but Mr and Mrs Priest.

Mr and Mrs Priest both taught me at different times and Hannah’s sisters – Jess and Jane, were both students at the school, a few years above me.

And then there was little Hannah. I remember her as a blonde haired girl with a big smile, an infectious personality and always up for a friendly chat.

Hannah was always talented at sport, and would excel at our school sports days. And you could always count on her to give it her all and lead by example, particularly when she became someone the younger students would look up to as she progressed through her schooling.

When I reached out to Hannah earlier in the week to congratulate her on her achievement and chat to her about the award, it was clear not much had changed in the years since we had contact.

She might be one of the most determined and gritty players in the AFLW right now, but she hasn’t forgotten her humble beginnings.

“Those were some great days and such fond memories,” Hannah said speaking of her Werrimull days.”(It was) the best upbringing, so lucky!”

The Crest Award is awarded to a teammate that holds the St Kilda Football Club team values – authenticity, grit, trust and unity and it is often noted from her fellow Saints players that Hannah is always someone they can depend on.

“Our Crest Award is such a special award to win as it’s voted by each of the players and for me to win the award and have the respect of all my teammates is something that I most cherish about my football journey,” Hannah said.

“I am so lucky to play alongside many incredibly talented footballers, but more importantly I have learnt so much from them as people and what it means to be a professional athlete in a competition that is continuing to emerge.
“I am really looking forward to working towards many more successes with St Kilda in 2022.”

Not only did Hannah receive the Crest Award, she also finished seventh in the team’s best and fairest vote count.