“Truly historic”: Scarlett Kennedy to become the first female CYs player to play 50 games at the club
By Sarah Beagley
In what CYs legend Smokie Dawson has tipped to be a “truly historic” moment for our club, this Saturday morning, Scarlett Kennedy will lead her senior women’s team out as the first ever female player to play 50 games at the club.
Starting in the women’s inaugural 2018 season, Scarlett has not missed a beat (or a tackle, or a shot at goal, or a CYs function) in her incredible 50 game career at the club. Often being thrown into any position on the ground where a strong a reliable ball-winner is needed, Scarlett quickly became one of the most vital and reliable leaders for the women as they built their team up from scratch.
After playing representative hockey for Altona through school and uni, Scarlett came to the CYs to try her luck at football, stumbling across a family legacy in the process. “I chose CYs because I was thinking about starting to play footy but wasn’t sure where. I saw that CYs were starting a team and when I mentioned it to Mum, she told me that it was the team that Pa (Scarlett’s Grandfather) used to play for. So I thought I would go to training and see what it was like. I remember going to the first training without knowing anyone and sitting in the car for a while until the actual start time. But I really enjoyed it and everyone was super friendly and welcoming and I haven’t left since.”
Starting off her legacy of historic milestones at the club, Scarlett kicked the first ever goal for the senior women’s side in their debut 2018 match against Powerhouse, and led them to a 1 point win to start off a successful first season at the club. She finished that season as the first female player to win the best and fairest medal and went on to become an integral leader in the 2019 grand final, which saw the women’s side going down by a goal to Therry Penola.
Scarlett has played all 50 games under legendary founding women’s coach, Lawrence Henry. “Obviously Loz has been a huge influence and one of the best coaches I have ever played under in any sport. I think that the way he has created an environment that welcomes every player into the team no matter their age, background, skills is amazing and there is no doubt that it has been a huge factor in our success. He is a CYs person to the core, and I couldn’t imagine a better person to have lead our team. The best part of game day has to be Loz’s pre-game chat, because it’s the time when you can see how much the team, the club and the jumper mean to him and makes you want to go out and make him proud.”
In a string of brilliant wins and best on ground performances, Scarlett’s favourite CYs game was the historic first Friday night match in 2021, where the girls had a memorable win against Old Melbournians under lights at the Fearon. “Playing the first Friday night at the Fearon was an amazing experience to be able to play at the real heart and soul of CYs and on the same field that every past player had gotten the chance to play on. It was a huge moment for the team and the club. And to have the rooms packed out after the game shows how much the Women’s team means to people and that we are an important part of the club moving forward.”
The only thing that has become more reliable and iconic than Scarlett strolling into a Saturday morning game with never more than a minute to spare and a coffee in her hand, is the Kennedy family cheering from the sidelines. You’d be hard pressed to find a women’s game in our history, home or away, where Scarlett’s Nan and Pa, parents Peter and Donna, sister Ainslie and dogs Bonty and Jongy weren’t watching and lifting the girls to a win. No matter how cold, wet or early, like Scarlett, you will find the Kennedy family spread across the field on game day, always putting up a hand to help as umpire, runner, team manager, scorer or opposition heckler (thanks Jongy).
“I don’t think I realised until I started playing how much the CYs means to the people who have played or been involved with the club, and that is definitely true of our family”, Scarlett reflects. “My Pa played for the CYs when he was younger, and won a few premierships, and loves telling stories about what he and his footy mates got up to on the weekends. I think if you asked him which of his grandkids would have kept the family tradition it probably wouldn’t have been me and Ains! But I don’t think he could be prouder and both him and Nan love coming to our games, even early on a Saturday morning, and encouraging the team and cheering from the sideline. And being able to play in a team with Ainslie was not something that we have done very often, so it was really special to be able to play with her and to play in a grand final with her is really memorable.”
Scarlett is honoured to be the first female CYs player to reach this milestone for the club, and is eagerly looking forward to the future for the women’s side. “I think it is as much a celebration of seeing how far the team has come since our first game, more than just me. I think that our women’s team no matter who has come in and out of the team since I started have brought the same energy and culture that makes you want to play every week and be a part of the team as often as you can. I am sure that there will be so many players that will play many more games at the CYs than me but it is special to have been a part of it at the start. I think that the women’s side is only going to grow, and with the work that Tess and the club have put into developing the connection with the juniors I think that the female players at CYs will continue to grow at a rapid rate. I am excited to see how big the women’s program at CYs can get and be there when we win our first premiership.”
I personally am one very proud teammate to have played alongside, and be led by, a player like Scarlett. A pioneer for female players at the club, a strong example of hard work and grit, and an absolute joy to be around. I couldn’t imagine anyone else reaching this iconic milestone first and, as is her legacy, paving the way for more women to look on and feel that they can do it too.
A message to Scarlett from coach Lawrence Henry –
‘It’s fitting that Scarlett is the first female player to reach the 50 game milestone at Williamstown CYMS. Her family has a long standing history with the club and Scar exemplifies the club and Seagals values. It’s a fantastic individual achievement and a big moment for the women’s team.
Scarlett won the best and fairest in the women’s inaugural 2018 season and was pivotal in the Seagals push to a grand final appearance in 2019. Scarlett is a dynamic and hardworking player who leaves nothing out on the field and has outstanding game sense. She has been a great example of the style of football we ask our team to play. Scarlet won her best and fairest as an inside midfielder and has since played both forward and back. Scarlett plays where we need a lift as I know we’ll get a tough contest and smart decision making. The players, coaches and club are extremely proud of Scarlett’s contribution to the club. Congratulations on leading the women as the first player to reach this milestone.’
A message to Scarlett from her family –
From Pa and Nan – ‘Congratulations Scarlett Kennedy on joining and playing 50 games with the Williamstown CYMS, the club your grandfather started his football journey with in 1954. We are so proud of you and hope you have a great game and season ahead.’
From Dad – ‘This is a fantastic achievement. 50 games is only 15 shy of the number played by the great Lin Jong, and equally as important in the overall assessment. Even more noteworthy is the way you have embraced and contributed to the Seagals culture. Really proud of you and hope you and all those reaching milestones in the future take pride in the trailblazing you have provided at CYs that will maintain a strong women’s program for years to come.’
A message to Scarlett from women’s captain Zoe Day –
‘Scar really personifies what it means to be a Seagal, on and off the field she embodies our values and her love and dedication for the game really shows in everything she does! She is such a talented player and you know she will give it her all no matter where she is on the field. Her input and presence is invaluable, she is a rock for this team and someone that I, and I believe everyone else, looks up to. Being one of the founding players for the CYs women’s team – this is such a huge achievement for her and a milestone for our team! Congratulations Scar, I can’t wait for many more games played with you and a few cheeky bevs along the way!’
A message to Scarlett from teammate Amy Roscoe –
‘Scarlett is an OG Seagal and the human embodiment of a pocket rocket. She’s only small in stature but her determination and grit is of an enormous nature. Scarlett is an incredibly talented football player. It has been such a joy to play alongside her for the past 5 years. Congratulations on your 50th game Scar!’