HE'S often described his time in Wollongong as a roller coaster ride and Illawarra skipper AJ Ogilvy wasn't keen on jumping off as it hit an upward swing.
The much-loved veteran will return for another campaign in Wollongong after inking a one-year deal, pushing his career with the club into a seventh season.
It would have seemed remarkable at this time last year, where he looked certain to depart as a casualty of a franchise-low five-win season en route to administration.
Thrown a lifeline by incoming coach Brian Goorjian, Ogilvy not only ran with it, but pulled some others through as club captain. He admits the prior uncertainty played at least some role in his best season since he was All-NBL First Team in 2017.
"That uncertainty before last season, not just with COVID, but with the uncertainty around getting a contract, it made me really appreciate just being able to play for the Hawks and play for Goorj at a club I've spent so much time with," Ogilvy said.
"For a while I might have taken it for granted a little bit and felt like I could've played forever.
"Before we even talked contracts, Goorj told me all I really needed to do was come in and lead the young guys and help them get better. That's what I focused on before the season started.
"With Bear [Cam Bairstow] being there I knew he'd be playing in front of me so I wasn't sure what minutes I'd be playing.
"I was just really focused on doing anything to make the team better and trying to gel the group rather than worrying about what I was doing individually.
"Things happened in the season and I ended up playing a few more minutes than I probably anticipated. I just took that and ran with it."
It culminated in the 33-year-old captaining the club in its return to the playoffs for the first time since his second season in Wollongong.
A 2-1 semi-finals loss to Perth exceeded plenty of expectations but - having gone one-up only to let it slip on their home floor - Ogilvy sees it as a missed opportunity for which he's desperate to atone.
"We have some definite unfinished business from last season," he said.
"We exceeded a lot of expectations but I think we only met ours. From the get-go we talked about being a finals team and we knew we had the talent to do that.
"We shocked Perth going over there and beating them on their home court in that first game. To let it slip from there was disappointing but I feel like we could have and should have got that one at home.
"That's one of the benefits of not having a long off-season. There's not a lot of time to sit around and dwell on what happened last season, you can just use it as motivation, get the guys back together and start working."
The fact returning star Tyler Harvey will be part of that crop - and for two more seasons after it - is testament to the club's new direction.
Ogilvy's played with three league MVPs (Kevin Lisch, Kirk Penney and Rotnei Clarke) in his time in Wollongong, but never for more than one season.
"Signing Tyler Harvey for three years is unheard of for the Hawks," he said.
"[It's] not just keeping a talent of his level, but keeping him for that long has never been done here. We're quite familiar with guys staying for a year and going to other clubs, going to Europe, getting better offers elsewhere.
"To really lock him in speaks volumes about where this club is and where we're heading."
It shows a degree of modesty to describe it as "unheard of" given Ogilvy was himself in league MVP calculations when he inked his own three-year deal in 2016.
There's been twists and turns in the seasons that have followed, but it's something he draws on in his new leadership role. No one 'gets' the Hawks like he does.
"The Illawarra's my home, I'm glad I've gone through everything I have here because it's made me the person I am," he said.
"It's made me able to lead this team and lead by experience. I tell the young guys all the time that things aren't always going to be perfect.
"Last season we were in Albury, we were in and out of lockdown, and just being able to communicate to guys that it's not always smooth sailing, we've just got to keep playing and win games.
"We were able to do that, we were able to make the semi-finals in the first year with new owners, new coach, almost a new club. A lot of people talked about it as a rebuilding year but we did a lot more than rebuild.
"I don't think I'm done playing and I don't really want to play anywhere else. I wanted to come back and help get this team back to where it should be."