A back injury and subsequent rehabilitation took Steph Halpin on a different sporting path for a while but the former national touch football representative has found her way back to her footy roots in recent times.
Since returning to Tamworth a couple of years ago, Halpin has thrown herself back into touch, and trying to return the sport to the days of when she was coming through.
She has also embraced a new footy experience - ladies league tag, lacing up the boots for the North Tamworth Bears the last two seasons (2019 and 2021).
Both years she has picked up the Archie Byrnes Memorial Award as the side's best and fairest player. In 2019 she was also adjudged the player of the grand final.
Reflecting on this season, Halpin felt she "started off a bit slow".
"I do iron mans and triathlons so I didn't do any pre-season training and came in a couple of rounds late," she said.
"But in the last few rounds I felt like I was really hitting my straps, just running really well, vision was good and gelling with the team."
She got into iron mans after suffering a severe back injury after the 2011 Touch World Cup.
Part of her rehabilitation was swimming. Then she got into bike riding.
Living in Newcastle at the time, through that she met some people who did triathlons.
"I met the wrong people because they were the iron man people not the shorter distance people," she joked.
Initially she was just focused on her own rehabilitation; just doing it at her own pace.
"Then I got to a point where I was feeling really strong again and then started doing these longer distance ones," she said.
One of her goals is to do the famed Port Macquarie Iron Man. The last two years it has been cancelled due to COVID. The next one is scheduled for May.
It will be a bit of a juggling act for Halpin to get ready for that. She and wife Yedda are expecting a baby in December, which is about when she would have to start training.
"With the baby on the way, we'll see how it pans out," she said.
What has been a two-three year process working with Hunter IVF, Halpin said she and Yedda are pumped.
"I'm so excited about it," she said.
"I don't know what I'm in for. But I'm looking forward to bringing someone into the world and modelling to them what I've experienced in my life."
It's a life that is for Halpin a very rich one at the moment.
She loves her work as the head teacher of PE at Tamworth High School, and with the Bears this season got the chance to link up with younger sister Rachel.
Before this year it would have been more than a decade since they had last played anything together.
"Having her alongside me is just fantastic," she said.
She described winning the Bears' best and fairest as "humbling" and an "honour" especially with the calibre of talent in the side.
"Being the best that's a good label to have but the fairest thing really resonates with me," she said.
"That's probably more important to have that. To have the community look at me as a fair competitor."
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