THE SYDNEY Swans’ forwards played pivotal roles in their team’s 29-point win over Greater Western Sydney in a women’s exhibition series match at the SCG last Saturday.
Kim Hemenway was the game’s leading forward. She kicked two of the first three goals to set the tone for the match and finished with three to her name.
Hemenway was one of two American imports playing in the game, having made the trip down under with Katie Klatt, who played for the Giants. The two paid their travel expenses out of their own pockets.
Hemenway, 32, has been playing footy back home for eight years, having taken up the game after watching a Brisbane Lions match while on duty with the United States Navy.
"We were in Brisbane for a port visit and went to a Lions game. I remember thinking, ‘This is a weird sport’," she said after Saturday’s win.
"When I got out of the Navy and moved to North Carolina, I saw a post on the internet inviting people to play footy and I thought, 'That’s the game I saw in Australia'. So I went to a training session and kept playing from there."
Hemenway lives in Los Angeles, but plays for the New York Magpies in the United States Australian Football League. There are no women’s teams in Los Angeles, so she trains at home on the west coast with the men’s team and then joins her New York teammates at tournaments.
"We don’t have a game every week because there are only 10 women’s teams in the country, so we play tournaments," she said.
"Once every month, or every other month, I’ll fly to wherever the tournament is on the east coast."
Hemenway is a neo-natal nurse working in an intensive care unit. Her flexible work hours made it possible for her to take time off to travel to Australia. Her colleagues, not surprisingly, were a little unsure about what she was doing.
"Most of them think I’m crazy. A lot of them think I’m playing rugby, while others just give me this type of response, ‘You do what you need to do. Come back when you come back’," she said.
Saturday’s exhibition match was just another step forward to reaching her goal of playing in next year’s national women’s league.
"That’s the main goal. Being picked to play would be amazing."