Narelle Smith swapped netball for Australian Rules football when she was 26, instantly fell in love with the sport and, almost two decades later, has been commended for her commitment to the code.
"I played till I was 38, probably one season too long," Ms Smith told 891 ABC Adelaide's evenings program.
Over her 12 years on the field, Ms Smith played 130 games in the South Australian Women's Football League (SAWFL).
"I was probably the shortest centre-halfback you'll ever find, but I was known to be pretty ruthless in my day," she said.
As the physical toll of the games started to weigh on Ms Smith, she took up an option to begin coaching the side in 2009 to continue her association with the sport.
"I don't think I was really ready to be a senior coach or a head coach of any team, but I had to learn on the job and I have really worked hard at learning off any coach I could," she said.
Over the years, Ms Smith said she had matured in the role and begun to recognise the individual strengths of each of her players.
"I think in my first few years I was actually a pretty terrible coach," she said.
"I really wanted players to be exactly the type of player that I was."
By observing and speaking with other coaches, Ms Smith found she was able to selectively adapt styles to suit her own personality and that of the team.
Defining herself as a defensive coach, she lists Hawthorn's Alistair Clarkson as an influence.