HARRIET CORDNER - From Classroom to AFLW Stardom

Harriet Cordner Carlton AFLW wearing stitch untitled

Growing Up in a Sporting Family

Harriet, or Harry as she’s affectionately known, had a childhood filled with sports thanks to her supportive parents and two brothers. She reminisces about her early days, dabbling in various sports, from hockey to soccer, encouraged by her family to give everything a try.

“I was lucky to grow up in a family where my parents encouraged me to try every sport,” Harry recalls. “I’d go to state trials for hockey after playing for just a few months and sit with my dad, who has always been my biggest supporter. Those experiences really set me up to change sports throughout my teenage years.”

A Rich AFL Legacy

Harry’s connection to AFL runs deep. Her grandpa and his brothers played for Melbourne, with her grandpa winning a Brownlow in 1946. “There’s a rich history at Melbourne. I was the eighth Cordner to play for Melbourne and the first female,” she proudly states. Despite the legacy, Harry’s journey into AFLW wasn’t straightforward, as she initially pursued soccer before discovering her passion for footy.

The Pressure of Legacy

Coming from a family with such a strong AFL background, the pressure to perform was immense. Harry shares how she navigated these expectations. “I went to an AFLW talent search, and despite being scouted by several clubs, I only wanted to play for Melbourne. The pressure was definitely there, especially with my family and the media spotlight before I’d even played a game.”

Leaving Melbourne for Richmond was a tough decision. “It took me years to accept that move. I had to do some soul-searching to figure out what I wanted from footy. Telling my dad was the hardest part, but I knew I had to make that choice for myself.”

The ACL Injury: A Tough Road

Harry recently faced a significant setback with an ACL injury. “It’s been three months since I did my ACL, and it feels like an emotional rollercoaster. The narrative people often give – that you’ll be better after this – didn’t sit well with me. Sometimes, I just needed to hear that it’s awful and that it will take time to get better.”

Moving Forward: Mind Over Matter

Despite the challenges, Harry is determined to turn this tough experience into something positive. “I’m focusing on mindfulness and working closely with a psychologist. If I can strengthen my mind during this time, it will help me as a footballer and through this recovery journey.”

Mentally Strong: The Key to AFL Success

Being an AFLW player is as much about mental strength as physical prowess. “The pressures of playing on the biggest stage are immense. Having a support system and being able to talk about my struggles has been crucial. As I’ve matured, I’ve learned to own my experience and take control of my journey.”

Owning the Journey

One piece of advice that stuck with Harry came from an ex-coach: “Own your experience.” She explains, “In elite sports, it’s easy to just go through the motions once you make it to the top. But it’s important to think about the bigger picture and what you want your journey to look like.”

Harriet Cordner’s story is a testament to resilience, passion, and the power of owning your journey. Whether you’re an aspiring athlete or someone facing your own challenges, her insights remind us that it's okay to struggle and that with determination, we can all find our path.