Paxy Paxman handballs during Melbourne's game against Collingwood in R1, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

IT ALL started with a form.

When the Melbourne player known to the outside world as Karen Paxman was asked to enter her personal details at the start of a new season, she hesitated.

Despite playing 64 AFLW games as Karen Paxman, for many years the Dees midfielder had been known to everyone simply as Paxy.

Paxy Paxman in action during Melbourne's win over Collingwood in AFLW round one, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

So when it came to putting down her name, she took a moment to pause.

"I was looking at this form and it asked for my name, and I was hesitant to put Karen down because how I'm referred to is Paxy," she tells

"Over the last few years, I've toyed with the idea of just changing my name to Paxy, because that's what sits comfortably with me. That's what everyone calls me and that's the name I identify with, so I wanted to put the name down on the form.

"It rolled from there. The club asked me if I wanted to change other things, like email and that sort of stuff, and that sat well with me.

"That's basically how it unfolded – as simple as filling out a form."

Given the traditional first name/last name structure, Paxman landed on the name Paxy Paxman for written purposes and Paxy where a first name suffices.

This small change at the start of a new season is just one example of how the 2023 campaign has been different for Paxman.

For the first time, she has been able to call herself a premiership player after the Dees finally broke their seven-season drought late last year.

She's also been sidelined by injury for the first time since the competition began in 2017; first due to a minor quad strain and then after a bizarre incident at home involving her dog, a German wirehaired pointer named Poppy.

Paxman was ruled out of rounds six and seven due to concussion, with the club at the time saying only that the injury was due to an "innocuous accident" and an "unlucky incident".

She's now revealed just how innocent, and particularly serious, the injury was.

"I was at home, and just mucking around with my dog, and just chasing her around the house," she says.

"I have wooden floorboards that are quite slippery, it seems. I was in socks, and the classic stack-and-whack.

"I've slipped backwards, and hit the back of my head on the arm of the couch. It could have been a lot worse, I was home alone at the time.

"I was a little bit sore there for a good few days, and had to chill out and recover. Obviously the protocols meant I had to sit out the second game as well, so in a nutshell, that's what happened.

"I've never had a concussion – that I know of – before. But I did think, 'Geez, that was a pretty decent stack'.

"It all happened quite quickly, so I was a little bit shocked at first. But then it was more the next morning I felt quite sore, then I started to think I potentially had a concussion.

"(The club was) so understanding, which they always are. I was just like 'I can't believe this has happened'. We were coming into the game against Adelaide, but they were so understanding and we just got to work on how we were going to attack the week. And that was about it."

Melbourne is the reigning premier and sitting pretty on top of the ladder, after comfortably accounting for top-four rival North Melbourne last weekend.


Back to full fitness, Paxman has set her sights on a goal never achieved before in the competition – back to back premierships.

Despite the emotions of that breakthrough flag last year, she believes the Demons have been able to re-focus and improve this year as they chase another title.

"I think coming off such a successful season, that in itself breeds a certain confidence," she says. "But again, I think the girls have stepped it up another notch this season.

"We've refined things a little bit more. Especially our connection in defence, I think, has definitely developed.

"The buy-in from everyone around our roles and our versatility as well, we've got such versatility where we can swap girls from the backline into the midfield or out to the wing, up to the forward line. So just that belief and trust in our program, I think that's a huge point of difference for us.

"At any given time, the team can be almost flipped around, and we've got the belief we can get it done."