Olivia Vesely before the AFLW round three match between St Kilda and Port Adelaide at RSEA Park, September 17, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

AN INAUGURAL Saint who has had a tricky run across her five AFLW seasons, Olivia Vesely is finally hitting her stride this year.

In a midfield that has been largely unsettled since St Kilda joined the AFLW in 2020, Vesely has put her hand up as an important cog of the side's on-ball group with a stunning performance against Collingwood on Sunday.

An important part of the Saints' first win of 2023, Vesely has been putting together a career-best season, with the key being consistency.

Signed as an expansion free agent by St Kilda ahead of 2020, Vesely has played just 24 of a possible 39 games, failing to play a full season after that inaugural year due to repeated injuries including concussion and calf concerns.

Finding confidence in her body wasn't only about improving fitness throughout the off season, it also required a mindset shift to learn when not to go full throttle.

"The big change has been getting the body right and just instead of going at 110, just chipping away," Vesely told AFL.com.au.

While the long pre-season leading into the 2023 season was "really mentally challenging" according to Vesely, it allowed her to find a good place with her body to hit the season hard.

"Liv is an interesting one because her work right and investment in her football is almost second to none. It's just about her doing it more often," St Kilda coach Nick Dal Santo said after his side's win on Sunday.

Olivia Vesely during St Kilda AFLW training at RSEA Park, October 19, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"At times she's been superb and works her backside off, but I think this year she's actually starting to get more of the football and more reward for some of the things that she's really doing.

"She's doing extras, and it's now coming out in the game."

Averaging career-best numbers across several key metrics, those extras are showing on the stats sheet.

The rise of Liv Vesely


Avg. Disposals

Avg. Tackles

Avg. Inside 50s

Avg. Clearances

Avg. Score Involvements

Avg. Metres Gained








2022 (S7)







2022 (S6)














*Vesely missed all of 2021 through injury

"I had the coaches that backed me in with the skill stuff… and they backed in the hard work stuff, but they just were just like, 'settle Liv'," Vesely said.

"Hopefully I've got some more years of footy ahead, so getting the consistency was actually more of a relief than anything else and made me really grateful to be out to play a role for my teammates."

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And play a role for her teammates she has. While the return of Tyanna Smith and the recruitment of Jesse Wardlaw, Jaimee Stanton and Steph Chiocci has headlined most discussions around the Saints, Vesely's improvement has been equally important.

Against Collingwood on Sunday Vesely gathered a career-high 21 disposals, eight tackles, five inside 50s and 330 metres gained, while also part of the play that resulted in Molly McDonald's goal to put the Saints in front.


With everything going back to that one word, consistency, Liv Vesely has quietly become one of St Kilda's key drivers as it sets its sights on steady improvement.