Heart of the Storm: Samantha Shaw
The one occurrence in 18 seasons that tireless volunteer Samantha Shaw remembers not fulfilling her game-day role with the Melbourne Storm was due to a potentially life-threatening diagnosis.
"The only time I missed it was in 2009 because I was unlucky enough to get diagnosed with breast cancer," Shaw said.
"I missed the end of that season because I had to have treatment and wasn’t allowed to sit out in the cold. It was really hard not to do it but I didn’t have a choice... it was really tough."
Shaw has been with the Storm since the club's inception in 1998 as one of its founding members and it was her calling to be directly involved in the club she has fallen in love with.
Shaw volunteered to help out the young Melbourne club in 2000 and has become a key fixture in assisting the Storm reaching a milestone 20,000-membership mark last week.
"I feel like I’m the lucky one to do what I do,” Shaw said. “I feel like they’re doing me a favour. I really enjoy it that much and meeting the people I get to meet – It’s a bit overwhelming.
"The interaction I have with players, guests and members coming to the match-day office – that interaction, and helping them out with information I know to help other people with, It’s really special."
Her dedication and passion for the game is a gift to rugby league administration, staff, players and fans. The sport is built on the back of women like Shaw who give their very all.
Shaw instantly fell in love with rugby league when she lived in Adelaide and the Canberra Raiders came to town. Moving back to Melbourne, it felt like the right choice to support the new Storm club which has become like family to her.
"I’m so proud of everything they’ve achieved as a whole,” Shaw said. "My favourite memories are of the old-boys days where we get to see the guys who were part of the club when it was a baby.
"Being a founding member and remembering how happy we were to socialize after games at after-match functions; seeing the club grow, being there from the start, it was all fresh and being part of that are joyful memories that I will remember forever. It’s very different now with how successful and professional we’ve been."
Her meaningful connection and hard-work was highlighted during her battle with cancer which she thankfully beat.
"The club was amazing. They were always in touch and set up a fundraising event at one stage to keep me on track,” Shaw said.
"They donated to that and were always sending me flowers, looking after me. It was beautiful. That’s why you feel like such a part of the club."
With her husband and cousins joining her as Storm fans in the AFL-mad city of Melbourne, volunteering at the Storm has seen her form somewhat of an extended family.
"It’s hard to properly understand where they’re (the Storm) coming from because I feel like I’m the one who benefits from doing what I do and feeling part of it as a member in helping other members and guests," Shaw said.
"I feel like I’m the one who’s been given to and not giving. I’ve been privileged to get this role."
Rugby league is built on the spirit and character of people as special as Samantha Shaw, who truly deserves her moment of recognition in this week’s Women in League Round.