By Murray Silby
“It was surreal. Honestly like a whirlwind. I can’t even think back to a moment when I wasn’t thinking ‘Oh, my goodness’ and pinching myself.”
It’s been a rapid rise for NT Thunder’s Jasmyn Hewett from small town netball player in country South Australia to AFLW star with the Adelaide Crows.
“Getting paired up on the likes of (Western Bulldogs superstar) Katie Brennan and having to defend her was huge for me,” she said. “Just loved it. I’ve loved the whole ride so far, it’s been awesome.”
Growing up at Stirling North near Port Augusta, Hewett played netball, because that’s what girls did, but she’d always had a hunger to try football.
“I played netball my whole life and never had the opportunity to play footy, coming from a small country town,” she remembered.
“I always wanted to play football, but never had the opportunity. Girls played netball and the lads played football.
“I’d have a kick to kick with my Dad. We’d just kick the footy on the dirt for half an hour or an hour every time we got the opportunity.
“He absolutely loves it. I’m sure he’s my biggest fan.”
It wasn’t until she set off on an adventure to Darwin in 2017 that she was introduced to footy as a competitive game.
Playing netball, Hewett met the wife of a foundation player and captain of the NT Thunder men’s team for its first two seasons and former CEO of the club.
“I played netball with a girl called Barbara Ilett and her husband is Jarred Ilett – one of the Territory’s biggest names. I was very lucky to fall under Jared’s mentorship,” Hewett explained.
“I played my first game in the ruck and kicked seven goals in my very first game of footy. He pretty, much from the get go, saw some potential and urged me to give it a really good crack so once I was aware that I could potentially take it to the next level, and with his push and his guidance, I’ve been really fortunate that I’ve been able to take it to the very top in such a short amount of time.”
Hewett plays her NTFL footy with St Mary’s and said the club helped prepare her for higher representation.
“I was very fortunate to play with such talent right from the get go (at St Mary’s),” she said.
She’s been re-signed for the 2019 AFLW season by the Crows, where she’s predominantly been used in the forward line, but playing for Thunder Hewett has carried much of the ruck burden.
“I actually really enjoy the ruck best,” she said. “Not so much for the bruises and bumps that you gain, but I actually just really enjoy being involved all over the field so I’m able to help my team-mates as much as possible and be influential everywhere.
“The physicality is something I really like so taking it to the next level I’m really pushing my body so being able to run that little bit further be able to challenge yourself a little bit more is something that I’ve always really enjoyed doing.”
Hewett is shaping as a key cog in the Thunder machine driving the team towards the finals.
Another step towards that ambition would be victory over Williamstown, which is second last on the ladder with just the one win, on Saturday.
Thunder has nine wins and two losses from its VFL W season so far and is second on the ladder.
If the stars align this weekend and third-placed Hawthorn defeats fifth-placed Darebin and third-placed Thunder beats lowly Williamstown, then Hewett and her team-mates will be playing finals footy in their first season in the VFL W.
“We went in there (the VFL W) knowing absolutely nothing about the VFL W, Hewett said. “We knew there’d be a lot of quality players and that we’d go in there just with full intention of doing our best. We didn’t actually expect that we’d be right up there at the top and that’s super exciting and credit to the girls,” Hewett said.
“We go into every game treating each team like they can beat us and we’re going to go down there and give it our best,” she said.
“You’ve go to go out there expecting the best players to be out there on that field because every team’s got their strengths and we’ve got to adapt to those quickly and win games by doing it.
“I’ve just been having so much fun. It’s what footy’s all about at the end of the day and hopefully we can keep Thunder going for years to come.”
VFL W Round 13 – Williamstown v NT Thunder, Saturday 4th of August, 11.30 am, Avalon Airport Oval.