Busy mum the volunteer every Ipswich club needs
AS a valuable sporting volunteer, busy mum Anne O'Donnell could adopt the motto: "If I'm free, I'll get into it''.
Given the multitude of tasks she's performed at the Ipswich Eagles Aussie rules club this year, it's little wonder she is so highly regarded.
"I can't help myself,'' she said.
One of O'Donnell's main roles was being club treasurer, which she describes as "awesome''.
"It's nice to be part of that really good network with the president (Clint Bateman) and Fatty (Chris Devlin). They are a great support,'' she said.
"It's something I really enjoy and I like to repay the privilege of being in the club.''
A finalist in this year's City of Ipswich Sports Awards, O'Donnell has also worked in the canteen during training sessions and most home junior and senior games.
At different times throughout the 2019 season, she was a duty official, a first aid officer, goal umpire, scoreboard operator, water runner and cleaner.
"Wherever I see the need, you just jump in and help out,'' the Yamanto resident said.
But while she did tremendous work off the field, O'Donnell also got to enjoy the benefits of playing.
She was part of the Ipswich Eagles team which won the QFAW Division 2 North grand final. It was only the second year the Eagles fielded a women's side and O'Donnell was delighted to share in the success with her teammates under the guidance of experienced head coach Rex Watts.
"I played all year. It was an amazing season,'' she said.
"It goes down to the club in general. The support we've had from the boys to come in and help coach and give us enough tips and things like.''
With a background in sports like netball and swimming, O'Donnell said Watts was incredible helping rookie Aussie rules players like her transition to different roles on the field.
"Last year, I kept mostly in the forward pocket,'' she said. "This year - with Rex Watts as coach and Clint Bateman as assistant coach - we trained in all three major positions. They then called me up into the wing and the midfield. Big roles in there . . . I did it and to be able to then play in different positions and not be a one position player is a huge thing.''
While she enjoyed learning and improving with the Eagles team, she maintained her work off the field. O'Donnell even created AFL-style banners for the Eagles team as they progressed through the finals.
Like many volunteers, O'Donnell first became involved with an Ipswich club through her children Chloe and Warner. That was in 2015.
"We fell in love with the members that we knew back then,'' she said.
"They made a massive big impression off everyone - our family and the culture they bring into the juniors is what we want as parents.''
The teacher's aide works predominantly with special needs kids at Brassall Primary School.
Performing that important work highlights the type of dedicated volunteer she is.
"It's loving the club you are in, wanting to keep that culture going and set the standard for others to come and join in,'' she said.
"I like to be busy. I like to be active and I do love to help out where I can in general.''
As a player, she also wanted to set an example for club juniors - "to see what we can become and there's a pathway.''
"And for a lot of us mums like myself, to show the children and other ones that you can still have a career and come back to do something that you love,'' she said.
Being nominated as a finalist in the city's prestigious sports awards was humbling for O'Donnell.
"It's nice to get the Eagles name back out in the community,'' she said.
"It will be nice to represent the club for the hard work, not just myself, but the whole team.''