Families and partners attended the unveiling at a jumper presentation at Windy Hill this week, with inaugural VFLW president and Essendon board member Katie Lio in attendance.
After a challenging pre-season that included losses to Southern Saints (58 points) and Hawthorn (82), the VFLW Dons will be looking to build on their 2018 season.
Senior coach Brendan Major will once again lead the Bombers, joined by assistants Wayne Schultz, Bernard Sheppard and Brett Pollard.
Major said his side was looking to take the next step forward after last year’s inaugural season.
“Moving into our second season, our players have solidified the teachings of last year and they strive to develop and improve,” Major said.
“We’ve had a few players come in, with what I’ve considered to be genuine outside speed in Marianna Anthony, Libby Hosking, Courtney Ugle and Ruby Svarc.
“This pre-season has been a really long one, it’s been gruelling, it’s been relentless, and their preparation has been exceptional.”
Essendon’s 2019 VFLW squad will feature an exciting mix of youth and experience.
Seven former AFLW players have been selected, including Isabel Currienti and Maighan Fogas, who both spent time with Geelong.
Ex-Carlton duo Shae Audley and Hayley Trevean will also don the sash, while former Magpie Cecilia McIntosh rounds out the experienced group of senior players.
Former Western Bulldogs VFLW player Elise Muller was one of many players to make the move to Essendon.
“It’s about having the community embrace your identity and that’s why I made the move to Essendon, and it really confirmed that I made the right choice the second I stepped into the door,” Muller said.
Among the new Bomber recruits are Indigenous rookies Freda Puruntatameri (Tiwi Bombers), Jessica Stassi (NT Thunder) and Arthurina Moreen (Tiwi Bombers).
Emerging youngsters Gloria Elarmaly (Calder Cannons), Alana Barba (Calder Cannons) and Felicity Theodore (Calder Cannons) also join after playing in the NAB League in recent years.
Thirty-five senior-listed players re-signed from last year, headlined by new skipper Courtney Ugle and vice-captains Simone Nalder and Hayley Bullas.
“To stand up here and be named captain is an absolutely amazing achievement for myself, but an absolute honour,” Ugle said.
“(Pre-season) has been absolutely hard work. We’ve had some pretty tough sessions and to see the girls pull through those tough times really makes me admire the group we have. I’m just excited to see what we can do as a collective come round one.”
This season will be Ugle’s first time leading the VFLW group as captain.
The 23-year-old played a vital role in the Bombers’ 2018 season, averaging 15 disposals and five tackles from her 13 games.
“I think the biggest thing that I can add to the group is that I genuinely care for the girls here and I really like to bring out the best in each individual and I think I play that role really well,” she said.
“The best thing about the group is that we’re not stuck in our own ways, we are open to learning and I think that is an exciting thing because the vision that this club and the coaching staff has is very exciting.”
Major said he was looking forward to seeing what the new additions would bring to the squad in 2019.
“We’re actually seeing consistent development from the whole group, so everybody has bought into the program, everybody has worked, and it’s really shown up on the track,” he said.
“The development of strong leadership will lead the group to great things this season.”
VFL operations manager Ash Brown said developing rookies such as Stephanie Hird (daughter of James Hird), Carla Rendelmann and Georgia Harvey would still have the opportunity to be selected this season.
“Certainly, throughout the year, we’re going to need some great quality people that can potentially come on and play a role on our list and I’ve got no doubt that these women can do that,” he said.
The Bombers will host Casey on Saturday, May 11, in what marks the first of eight home games at Windy Hill.
ESSENDON’S 2019 VFLW SQUAD
1 - Courtney Ugle © - 23yo - 160cm
2 - Isabel Currienti - 27yo - 167cm
3 - Monique DeMatteo - 22yo - 168cm
4 - Alexandra Saundry - 27yo - 167cm
5 - Cecilia McIntosh - 40yo - 160cm
6 - Alex Quigley - 23yo - 168cm
7 - Kirby Hicks - 32yo - 177cm
8 - Hayley Bullas - 23yo - 165cm
9 - retired!
10 - Eleanor Cornish - 19yo - 177cm
11 - Molly Warburton - 19yo - 170cm
12 - Elizabeth Kearney - 30yo - 183cm
13 - was always in Eastasia…
13 - Shae Audley - 31yo - 163cm
14 - Tessa Zagantinos - 21yo - 163cm
15 - Lauren Caruso - 20yo - 161cm
16 - Elise Muller - 22yo - 160cm
17 - Federica Frew - 23yo - 167cm
18 - Kendra Heil - 31yo - 166cm
19 - Hayley Trevean - 31yo - 167cm
20 - Alexa Madden - 26yo - 169cm
21 - Katherine McFadyen - 24yo - 169cm
22 - Natalie MacDonald - 21yo - 164cm
23 - Maddy Collier - 24yo - 165cm
24 - Sian Wilson - 26yo - 170cm
25 - Lori Stepnell - 24yo - 174cm
26 - Taylor Moss - 26yo - 178cm
27 - Alex Morcom - 23yo - 166cm
28 - Ruby Svarc - 26yo - 161cm
29 - Chloe Laan - 33yo - 172cm
30 - Simone Nalder - 29yo - 186cm
31 - Jessica Stassi - 21yo - 160cm
33 - Elizabeth Hosking - 24yo - 168cm
34 - Freda Puruntatameri - 18yo - 175cm
35 - Marianna Anthony - 22yo - 168cm
36 - April Lewis - 29yo - 174cm
37 - Irena Malliaris - 25yo - 162cm
38 - Erin Gogerly - 24yo - 173cm
39 - Maighan Fogas - 24yo - 162cm
40 - Arthurina Moreen - 19yo - 178cm
41 - Felicity Theodore - 18yo - 168cm
42 - Alana Barba - 18yo - 165cm
43 - Georgia Nanscawen - 27yo - 162cm
44 - Georgia Patrikios - 18yo - 175cm
45 - Eloise Ashley-Cooper - 19yo - 165cm
46 - Gloria Elarmaly - 18yo - 176cm
47 - Faith Holloway - 19yo - 161cm
48 - Krstel Petrevski - 18yo - 173cm
Development rookies: Stephanie Hird, Carla Rendelmann, Jess Domenico, Steph Harvie, Georgia Harvey, Paige Whitworth
Victoria Raptis is in the final year of her Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) degree at RMIT University. As part of their strategic partnership, Essendon Football Club and RMIT University are committed to providing opportunities for students, staff, players and the wider community.