‘‘It is a huge honour and you definitely didn’t expect it.’’
Prespakis thought she was merely awarding the AFLW Rising Star Award – handing on the honour she won last season to the Western Bulldogs Isabel Huntington – but McLachlan had a surprise for her.
‘‘They did it really well and I was shocked. They got my little sister [Georgie] to present the medal and it was absolutely amazing,’’ Prespakis said.
Her mum Jody had the same reaction as her daughter when she heard the news, breaking down in tears, while her dad, Damien, initially told Prespakis he couldn’t talk as he was on a crane at work.
‘‘I said, ‘You’re going to want to hear this’ and he was like, ‘What’s up?’ and his forehead was on the camera because he didn’t know how to use Facetime and I said, ‘Dad look up I won the best and fairest’ and he was like, ‘You’re kidding’,’’ Prespakis said.
‘‘Just to see the emotion on their face was incredible.’’
Prespakis, pick No.3 in the 2018 AFLW draft, joins two-time winner Adelaide’s Erin Phillips and 2018 winner North Melbourne’s Emma Kearney (who won the award playing for the Western Bulldogs) as AFLW best-and-fairest winners.
A prodigious talent she admits to having goosebumps whenever she lines up on the AFLW’s established stars, needing to take a deep breath before giving it her best.
‘‘I have always dreamt of playing AFL … I just wanted to go as hard as I could,’’ Prespakis said.
Prespakis bounced back from one below-par game after fellow Carlton midfielder Patrick Cripps gave her some advice on how to handle tags – an occupational hazard for a player of her ability to influence games – using her strength and clean hands to meet the challenge.
‘‘I try to make it as a positive … during the games I am sometimes like, ‘Why can’t you pick on somebody else?’ but at the end of the day it is a compliment,’’ Prespakis said.
Compliments are something the talented Blue better get used to as she takes the competition by storm gathering knowledge about both her game and her indigenous heritage as she grows up around football.
‘‘I have a big interest in trying to learn different things about my culture every day,’’ Prespakis said.
Huntington was equally excited to be awarded the Rising Star given the injury battles she has endured in her three seasons in the AFLW since the Bulldogs took her at pick No.1 in the 2017 AFLW draft.
A knee reconstruction in her first season followed by a sprain to her knee in the following pre-season meant she had played just five games heading into this season.
‘‘For me going into the season the main goal was to just get a game under my belt and then a full season after that,’’ Huntington said.
‘‘There was never really any idea I could win an award like this given the calibre of young players in the competition.’’
Huntington, who is studying science at Melbourne University, won the award narrowly from St Kilda’s Caitlin Greiser with Gold Coast’s Kalinda Howarth third.
Peter Ryan is a sports reporter with The Age covering AFL, horse racing and other sports.