NOW AT her third AFLW club, Grace Campbell finally feels like she's home.
The energetic, high-pressure forward started her career at Richmond in 2020, spent 2021 and both 2022 seasons at North Melbourne, before moving to Collingwood earlier this year.
The stability she's found at the Magpies, after a devastating 2022 in her personal life, has led to a career-best season.
Campbell's father Kelvin passed away last year after an illness, and to add yet another difficult element to the mix, she ruptured her ACL at pre-season training that August.
"It's incredible. I feel like it was a really positive move for me personally, and footy-wise as well. I felt like towards the back end of my time at North Melbourne, I maybe lost my love for footy a bit," Campbell told AFL.com.au.
"Whether that came off the back of some personal things, unexpectedly losing Dad – he was my biggest football supporter.
"I was struggling to find form, had a really solid pre-season, but unfortunately then did my ACL. I felt like it was a really good time to move on. When I met up with Steve [coach Steve Symonds] and 'Burgs' [head of footy Jess Burger] for a catch-up, I instantly felt at home.
"Since then, the experience has been so positive. The girls are fantastic, the staff around the club are incredible. I feel like we've got a really strong connection between the group. I feel like the coaches have a lot of faith in my ability and that's allowing me to play to my strengths, enjoy footy and get the most out of myself."
Campbell still lives in Bendigo to remain close to her family, her alarm ringing at 10 to five in the morning so she can drive at least two hours down to day sessions in Melbourne.
A nurse who worked on the frontline during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Campbell has now started her own cosmetic injectables business, finding the combination of hospital work and football too wearing on her body.
"To be honest, because I'd previously done an ACL (prior to AFLW), you learn a lot from the first one. The second one, on the background of losing Dad, there was a lot of perspective around it," she said.
"Yeah, it was tough, but I knew it wasn't the be all and end all. I knew we would get through the other end, and the reality was, it was my reality. I just had to keep pushing on.
"But Collingwood were absolutely incredible in supporting me through that. I was fortunate to have Bri (Davey) and Britt (Bonnici) at the tail-end of their rehab as well. So that always makes things a lot easier.
"To be honest, once I walked through those four walls, I felt at home."
Collingwood has had a rollercoaster season; the Pies dropping games they arguably shouldn't but beating Brisbane on its home deck to kick off a run of four straight wins.
Post-match, a club-produced video in the rooms saw Campbell and Nell Morris-Dalton take centre stage, excitedly pointing to their nails – painted white, with black on their ring fingers – with Morris-Dalton declaring, tongue-in-cheek, she was "married to the club".
The team embraced the off-beat move so much, its player development manager organised for nail technicians to come in for all players for an afternoon bonding session.
"It was our trip to Brisbane, and we arrived a day early, so we had some downtime. Girls like to spend it in all different ways, but I looked at my nails and they looked appalling, so I wanted to get them done," Campbell said.
"I always like themes with everything, my family have always been weird like that – if you're dressing up, it has to be done in a full theme. So I thought I'd go Collingwood colours (for her nails).
"I got down to the lobby and Bri and Nell were also there. I said I was going to get a pedicure and manicure, and they wanted to come too.
"You know how all the Collingwood supporters say they bleed black and white, and one thing led to another. We were on such a high after the Brisbane win – oh gosh, a lot of personality came out in those videos, that's for sure.
"That's how incredible [the Pies] are. We had nail techs come into the club, we all got our nails done, and it was just fantastic. And it was another opportunity to build good connections off the field, and spend time with one another outside that high-pressure, high-performance environment. We'll have to keep it going."