Women of Influence: Erin Phillips

To commemorate 10 years of South Australian Style, we’re celebrating 10 women of style and influence – their stories of fearlessness, humility and success have helped shape our state into the home we love.

Erin Phillips is an Olympic silver medallist, former professional basketball player, co-captain of the Adelaide Crows in the AFL Women’s (AFLW) competition, the Director of Player and Franchise Development and former Assistant Coach for the Dallas Wings basketball team in Texas, USA, is co-hosting the Jodie & Soda Breakfast Show on Mix102.3, and is a mother of two.

Wardrobe by Rundle Place
Jewellery by Aurum Jewels Adelaide

“I measure success probably quite differently than others. It’s not got to do with the achievements or premierships or anything like that – I like to measure my success by the impact I have on other people, particularly young people. Being a role model for young girls to get out there and play sports or even just to be themselves. My marriage with Tracy is public, which I think has helped a lot of people accept who they are too. I’m also just proud that I’ve been a part of sport, and that I’ve been able to play at the highest level for two sports.

As soon as I could walk, I loved sport, football in particular. I wanted to grow up and be a footballer like my dad. I played footy with the boys at junior club level up until I was 13, which is the age you had to go into girls’ competition or find another sport. Footy was always my passion and that’s where I wanted to be, so my dream of playing professionally as a footballer was crushed. But, I did love basketball. I got the opportunity to play with Adelaide Lightening when I was about 16. I think my contract was for $500 or $1000 and I thought I was the richest person in the world. I thought it was amazing to be getting paid for something I love.
The transition from professional basketball back to AFLW later in my career was difficult – the physical requirements that footy demands of you are tough, but it was also something I loved and enjoyed. It was about re-training my energy system and fitness, because we had been playing on such a smaller space compared to a footy oval. Though the kicking and marking and the physical contact were almost like muscle memory for me.

Since the twins were born, we’ve split our time between Dallas and Adelaide. It was a really unique situation for us, and an incredible lifestyle. In Dallas I was a part of one of the best women’s basketball league teams in the world, raising my kids to be a part of the Wings, and then flying to the other side of the world to be a part of the Adelaide Football Club and the AFLW. Having them be around sport, which is how Tracy and I grew up, is so important to us. We’re going to spend more time in Adelaide this year though.

There are parts of the States, even in Texas, where you still can’t walk and hold hands – same sex marriage is still not accepted. I know with a lot of my friends, I’m not sure if it’s just having it legalised, there’s now a sense of freedom and acceptance. There’s a weight off your back. It probably did have a lot to do with the vote, and then seeing the support when the plebiscite came about. It was terrible to have to go through it, but we came out on the other side, and the support we saw was enormous. I think everyone is now just living the life they were meant to live and being comfortable.

Now that the twins are a little older and more self-sufficient, my goal for 2020 is to start doing more in the charity space, and also just getting back out there on the field.

When I tore my ACL last year it was devastating, especially in a grand finale, but I was actually lucky. I felt like we had the game won at that point, so I wasn’t too worried about winning, but it’s crazy all the thoughts that come into your head about why it’s inconvenient. I knew immediately that I would be unable to run around after my kids for a long time.

Mentally, it was difficult. I was so excited to win the grand final and achieve what we had wanted all season long, but then in the back of my head was knowing there was a huge amount to do if I ever want to get back to this moment. I’m a big believer in things happening for a reason, so I’m getting through the mental challenge of this injury and preparing myself to get back on the field.

We’ve always said, as women in sport, if we build it, they will come. That’s what has happened in the past five or six years with soccer, AFLW and the WBBL – I think we’ve now started putting recognition and promotion into women’s sport, making it more accessible to watch.

Audiences have fallen in love with the women’s sports. Media coverage has made it more accessible for young boys and girls, and you can go and watch AFLW matches for free. We’ve now given women’s sport the recognition and publicity that it deserves and we’re seeing a huge amount of female participation across Australia. So now, when young sports women turn 13, they no longer need to feel crushed, but rather hopeful for a long and rewarding career, it’s fantastic.”

White look:
Unstructured blouse, $129.95, Seed
Belted twill trouser, $99.95, Seed
Ivy 85mm suede pump, $159.95, Witchery
Pomellato Jewellery nudo praseolite earrings, $5,350, Aurum Jewels Adelaide
Pomellato Jewellery nudo praseolite and topaz necklets, $,3,100 each, Aurum Jewels Adelaide
Pomellato Jewellery nudo praseolite blue and white topaz rings, from $3,100, Aurum Jewels Adelaide
Pomellato Jewellery m’ama non m’ama peridot and london blue topaz cuffs, $4,000 each, Aurum Jewels Adelaide.

Yellow look:
Jilliie tie neck midi dress, $429, Ted Baker
Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen Jewellery shooting star earrings, $7,450 each, Aurum Jewels Adelaide
Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen Jewellery love bracelet, $5,750 each, Aurum Jewels Adelaide

Interview: Sharmonie Cockayne
Photo: Gretl Watson-Blazewicz
Styling: Chris Kontos
Client Liaison: Ellery Mitchell
Styling Assistant: Tiana Della-Puta
Photography Assistant: Adam Stanley
Hair: Monique Hateley, Clipjoint
Makeup: Samantha Vlassis