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AFLW Feature: Drafted out of Darwin - Hewett’s Story

       - Jasmyn Hewett

Jasmyn Hewett has always been a country girl at heart.

She hates big cities almost as much as she hates cold weather.

Growing up in a small town called Stirling North three and a half hours north of Adelaide, Hewett’s journey began.

She has three siblings; two brothers and a sister, and grew up spending lots of time on her grandparents’ farm.

“I spent most my childhood riding motorbikes and running around the block chasing animals,” Hewett told SUNS Media.

“I’ve had a very active childhood and I’m so blessed to be able to grow up where I did and have the freedom to be able to do that without any real dangers present.”

She was always active, but before she got into team sports she was influenced by her father’s love for motocross.

“He actually designed and built us a go kart when we were young so I learnt how to drive a manual when I was about eight years old,” Hewett laughed.

“I actually fractured my foot on a motorbike when I was 11 in five places.

“It literally crushed my foot backwards towards my shin.

“It was really fun though, dad designed a race track in the backyard.

“We had the mounds and jumps and hills and all sorts, it’s still there actually.”

Introduction to sport:

When Hewett was 13 she started playing netball and basketball.

She began later than most, due largely to the fact that she preferred push-bike and BMX riding at the time.

And growing up, she wasn’t that tall.

She had a growth spurt in her late teens which pushed her to the current height of 182cm, but before then she was smaller and all about speed.

“I was never all that good to start with, I was always in the lower divisions and that sort of thing as a youngster,” Hewett said.

“I think that’s where I really enjoyed my sport to start with.

“Then as I got older and got taller, my competitive side started to come out and I sort of pushed to get better and better.

“I was lucky, I sort of made my way into the top grades when I was 18 and from there I competed at Country Championships in South Australia.

“It was anything netball growing up - I haven’t really had the opportunity to play football apart from just having a kick with my dad out the front or school sport.

“I focussed mainly on my netball and that was sort of the driving force behind my love for sport initially.”

Into the workforce:

Hewett’s love for sport translated into her first job.

“I finished school and I just loved everything fitness so I decided to become a personal trainer – that was what I studied when I finished school,” she said.

“My friend and I decided we’d start up our own business and we created a little studio and started working together on a personal gym approach for clients.

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“They could come into their own private gym and we’d tailor a gym session to their needs.

“I did that for a couple of years and I really enjoyed it, it was a huge highlight for my first job as a trainer.

“I also studied exercise-specific nutrition in that timeframe too so I tried to assist with the nutritional aspect to give more to my clients.”

But while she loved her job at the time, it was taking a toll.

To support her business on the side, Hewett was also working full-time at a local sports store and often worked 16-hour days to make ends meet.

“It was a lot of big days,” she said.

“I did that for two and a half to three years then thought I needed a holiday.”

Heading north:

When she was 23, Hewett decided she needed to circuit-break her life.

She wanted a big change, so made the decision to go up to Darwin.

“The opportunity for me to go up to Darwin was more initially for me like a getaway,” she said.

“I just wanted to get out and experience something different.

“So I moved with the intention of doing about six months and then moving back home again and getting back into it.

“But I fell in love with the place instantly.” 

Hewett started working at the local sports store in Darwin to get by before progressing to work at an indoor trampoline arena.

They utilised her skills there, with Hewett instructing fitness classes on the trampolines.

It was up in Darwin when Hewett first considered playing football seriously.

“I sort of knew that it was available up there but I didn’t think much into it,” Hewett said.

“My first day in Darwin I went out to netball training because I’m a social bunny and love to meet and greet new people.

“I literally arrived in Darwin after travelling up for two weeks and did the holiday thing then went straight out to netball training.

“I asked the girls at training if they knew about the local footy because I’ve always loved footy but just never had the opportunity to play.

“It came up in conversation and one of the girls put her hand up and said she played.”

That girl played for St Mary’s, a team in the NTFL Women’s competition where Territory AFL star Jarrod Ilett was the coach.

Hewett went out on a limb and attended a football training session with her netball teammate.

She had an absolute blast in her first session.

The season had already started, but Hewett wanted to get involved immediately so signed up to play.

The first season:

Jasmyn had a memorable introduction to football in her first game.

Maybe it was beginner’s luck, but playing in the ruck she kicked six goals on debut.

Six goals.

“It was the best thing ever, that was the most memorable game for me because I had no idea what I was doing and had an absolute ball,” she said.

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“From there it completely took off, I didn’t know it would be a whirlwind experience for me.

“It literally started from never playing football, to playing my first game to then being drafted the following year.”

But there came a point where she had to choose between netball and football.

Hewett had never pursued netball at the elite level, but an opportunity arose to represent the Northern Territory in the Australian Netball League.

But it conflicted with her burgeoning football career, with the Adelaide Crows showing an interest in Hewett after her inaugural season with St Mary’s.

“That was my window into taking my netball to the next step,” she said.

“I actually had the opportunity to take my netball to the elite level and potentially make something out of it.

“I would have loved to have played for the Territory in that league but I also had the opportunity come up at the same time to be a train-on player with the Adelaide Crows.

“I actually decided to give netball the flick completely and decided to go down the football path.

“I love netball, it’s what I grew up doing, it’s what I’ve been all about pretty much my whole life.

“I consider it very close to my heart I guess so it was really hard.

“But I think the skills I’ve gained through netball in my life have aided my football career so I’ll always be grateful for netball and what it’s taught me.”

The next level:

With the first AFLW season in the books, the Crows were interested in adding Hewett to their mix for the second year.

They nominated her to test at the Draft Combine where she finished top 10 in each test.

It’s another one of her career highlights.

She was drafted that year and played every game for the Crows in 2018 as a utility.

It had come along so quickly – In the space of 12 months Hewett had gone from attending her first training session to playing in the AFLW.

But realistically, she still didn’t have that much football under her belt.

So after her first AFLW season she signed up to play for the NT Thunder’s VLFW side.

It gave her the opportunity to develop her game.

She finally had some consistency in her football.

The plan was to prepare for a big 2019 season before disaster struck.

“I was really gearing up for what I thought would be a good 2019 season and unfortunately in the trial game at the start of this year I ruptured the ligaments in my right ankle,” Hewett said.

“It was a season-ending injury so before the season had even started I was completely wiped out.

“It was really hard but it also gave me an opportunity, not one that most want, but a good opportunity to see how things are run behind the scenes and from the sidelines.

“I think it’s given me a really good appreciation for what people do in the rehab space and on the sidelines.

“It’s very admirable as a club to see just how much goes into an athlete for them to be able to do what they do, so that was really good for me.”

The big decision:

Hewett returned to Darwin earlier this year after the AFLW season concluded, but knew she was on borrowed time.

With the AFLW becoming more professional each year, Hewett had to make a decision about where she wanted to situate her life.

That was when she received the phone call from the Gold Coast SUNS.

“I wasn’t expecting it to be honest,” she said.

“But I’ve always been a big country girl, I’m not a big fan of cities and I hate the cold.

“The opportunity to come and live on the Gold Coast is what sparked my interest to start with.”

Living in Adelaide didn’t appeal to her, and Hewett knew she had some interest in her services on the east coast.

She was flown out to tour the club and facilities, and after that meeting knew the SUNS was the place for her.

“Obviously the opportunity to be a part of the inaugural season was also appealing,” Hewett said.

“I’m really passionate and really looking forward to what they’re creating here and I really want to be a part of it so that sort of drove my decision as well.”

The 25-year-old said she was also impressed by how quickly she was welcomed into the club by staff and players, both male and female.

“I know I haven’t been to a lot of places but this place really does feel like a welcoming environment where it’s just a giant family wanting to welcome you in and be a part of that,” she said.

“It was instantly a no-brainer for me.

“As soon as I came and saw what it was about and saw the club was really one with the women and men in that space, it’s definitely really appealing for someone like myself to be able to feel welcome no matter who’s in the room.

“I think that’s really important especially when you feel like you’re supported as a footballer in every aspect.

“We’re going to be sharing a lot of space with the men so it’s really nice to feel like you’re a part of that and we’re all treated as equals which I think is important in this day and age.”

Integration is a huge component of the culture the SUNS are fostering, and it rubbed off on Hewett almost immediately.

“I was instantly greeted by quite a few of the boys and that alone says a lot about the club I think,” she said.

“I don’t think people realise just how much integration means in a football space.

“It’s a male-dominated sport but it doesn’t have to be and I think it’s already progressed from that in this club.

“I think that’s something everyone should be really proud of.

“Everyone’s going to feel welcome and I think once you feel welcome and comfortable, what could go wrong?”

So Hewett signed with the SUNS.

The future:

Hewett wants to start a legacy at the SUNS.

She wants to be a part of something special.

With two years in the AFLW system, she could be considered one of the leaders of the club despite only having played football for three years.

“Now that I do have the experience I would love to be able to contribute and share that and help with the process, drive the standards and make my mark,” she said.

“It’s our inaugural season, we’ve got so many young athletes, what I can bring to this space I think within myself is going to be one of the bigger things behind my season this year.

“I was lucky to be able to play a couple of the Winter Series games so I’ve had experience in this space with the girls so far and I think the environment that we’ve set standards for already is awesome.

“I think we have a lot to look forward to if those games are anything to go by, we’ve got a really good team, a really great bunch of girls and it’s going to be an awesome season.”

Hewett is still living up in Darwin but has plans to relocate to the Gold Coast after Christmas.

She’s currently working at Territory Insurance Office (TIO) in the Motor Accident Commission team (MAC).

Her role involves her managing people who are recovering from injuries sustained in car accidents and facilitating their claims for assistance through the MAC scheme.

Hewett is continuing to rehab her injured ankle and hopes to be ready to go for the upcoming pre-season

“I’ve had a really big setback and for me it’s just about finding my feet again and being able to play consistent footy at my physical best,” she said.

“I’ve been focussing on intensive rehab for the last week and it’s already significantly improving.

“I’m seeing results I haven’t seen since January which is really exciting.”

After playing the majority of her short career as a utility, Hewett is excited to experiment in different roles before settling on a preferred position.

“I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my career so far, it’s literally just spiralled out of control,” she said.

“I got drafted then played my first season of AFLW in 2018 where I was lucky enough to play every game for the Crows.

“I literally had games where I played mid, forward and back.

“I really haven’t found my strengths yet I don’t think.

“I feel like I can assist everywhere and be everywhere and try to impact as much as possible.

“There’s so much more to learn and hopefully so much more to improve on.

“I haven’t really played a lot of football because this injury has held me back but it just makes it so much more exciting because I’m looking forward to really trying to find out how high as I can go in this field.”

If Hewett could pass on one piece of advice to anyone reading she wants them to know this: never give up.

“I had always been considered a bench player or someone that was never really good enough.

“I really worked on myself in whatever sport I was playing and tried to do my absolute best.

“I think if you train and really want something enough then you’re going to make it.

“I remember playing a basketball game when I was 13, I was never really that good at it.

“We were losing against a pretty good team and I remember one of my teammates say ‘we’re losing, get Jas off’.

“That feeling really fired me up as a kid and I really worked on myself from then onwards and really stepped it up.

I honestly never gave up and it’s proof that dreams really can come true if you are willing to work for them.”