Cherie O'Neill has been appointed the Bendigo Pioneers NAB League Talent Pathways Female coach.
The Bendigo Thunder premiership coach takes over the reins from Shawn McCormick after he stepped down from the position.
After departing the Thunder at the end of 2017, O'Neill spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach to Rick Coburn with the La Trobe University-backed Pioneers' under-18 boys program.
O'Neill spent 2018 as a development coach before stepping up in 2019 to the role of backline coach.
This season she was the only female line coach in the NAB League boys competition.
"I went to the Pioneers because I wanted to join a program that had support where I could develop my coaching and see how that next level worked,'' O'Neill said.
"When I first started with the boys I was doing bench rotations development roles and that was different to what I'd been doing at the Thunder.
"This year I took on the backs and worked really closely with Rick and the other coaches. They were really supportive and I had a really good season with the boys in the backline.
"I learned a lot and it was nice to hone in on one area of the ground."
O'Neill said the different skill sets she acquired while coaching the Thunder and Pioneers boys have helped make her a better coach.
"When I coached the Thunder it was about developing their skills and knowledge of the game,'' O'Neill said.
"The girls had a real passion for the sport and were always willing to learn.
"I learned a lot about coaching with the boys. The first year the more I spoke to the boys the more they realised that I knew what I was talking about.
"In the second year they knew what I was like and there was more respect there.
"I had a great group of players to work with in the backline and we got on really well."
O'Neill's experience of coaching her own team at the Thunder and her communication skills impressed Pioneers regional talent manager Steve Sharp.
"I watched Cherie when she was coaching the Thunder and you could see that she knew her footy and she had good people skills,'' Sharp said.
"We spoke at the end of that season and I asked her if she wanted to come into our program as a specialist coach.
"Her appetite for coaching is really evident, she took feedback really well and she did a great job with the boys this year.
"She's ready to take on this role."
O'Neill starts the head coaching role this Monday night when the Pioneers begin pre-season training at Epsom-Huntly Recreation Reserve.
"We're seeing more and more girls get involved with footy at a young age,'' she said.
"It's exciting to see more girls realise there's a pathway from juniors all the way through to AFLW.
"I think the standard is only going to get better and better."
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.