Talented Jasmyn Smith balances AFLW goal with other passions
IT has been a remarkable past three years for SUNS Academy Girls talent Jasmyn Smith, with the hard-working midfielder having rapidly developed from first playing a competitive match, to being a prominent contributor for the Suns Under 17s’ side in the recent Academy matches. The 17-year-old is heading into her most important footballing year thus far in 2022, and she is doing so whilst juggling television presenting, modelling, acting and theatre roles with a workload that very few could handle. But Smith finds a way.
Smith’s football journey started many years ago through school, but she only really began to view it as a competitive sport in 2018, when she joined the Broadbeach Cats. As a “mad” Collingwood supporter, Smith initially picked up a ball back in Year 4 at school, and enjoyed it, realising it could be a path she took in the future. Though that future would not seriously roll around until 2018.
“There weren’t many girls teams around and I think that was the first year I could actually join with my age and all of that. Being a girl it was really hard back then,” Smith said. “But I had to join the Under 17s team at Broadbeach Cats, as a 13-year-old. “I played that year and I did really well, and I really fell in love with it from then on, and then the next year I played Under 15s with Danny Del-Re as my coach and he was such an amazing coach for me, and he trained me so well, it was such a good year.”
In her debut season, Smith would taste premiership success, with the Cats defeating the Burleigh Bombers in the first of three consecutive grand finals. The following year Broadbeach would lose by a few points in the decider, before bouncing back with a win this year to reign supreme again, something that Smith describes as a “pretty good club journey”.
Her Gold Coast Suns Academy journey started just prior, where Smith competed in a Sunsets team where they competed up the coast and eventually the pathway lead into the Under 17s’ Suns squad. By the end of last year, Smith was invited to play as an Under 19s player in her bottom-ager year this year, and will again don the gold and red in 2022. The fact she has been able to train with a high performance Academy has given her extra “drive” for the future, with a potential AFLW career in sight.
From there, Smith was determined to not slow down, and she rocked up to Suns Academy training and was quickly thrown in the deep end, realising just how tough the next stage would be.
“I started working really, really hard and my first 2km time trial, then made me do it on the first training session I showed up, and I showed up a little bit late, so no one knew who I was, and I was kind of by myself and then made me do a 2km time trial by myself and I got nine minutes, 30. It was so bad, I was coming off a massive break. Then I trained really hard over Christmas, because we had a Chrissy break.”
Upon return from break, Smith shaved 90 seconds off her time to clock in at an eight-minute time trial, and then when she tested at the State Combine, she finished top two in the Yo-yo test, and topped the Queensland talents in the agility as well, despite being a couple of years younger than many of those in attendance. Smith was ready for gameday, though it would not be the current landscape without COVID-19 pandemic bumps in the road.
“We got two games in until COVID hit. We were supposed to go to Melbourne and face a team down there, but then COVID hit and that got cancelled, but we were able to squeeze two games in against the Brisbane Lions,” she said. “The first one we drew, and then the second one we lost on our home ground which was pretty bad. But then after Under 19s was over this year, I went over to Under 17s which was the comps that I played. I was training with them for a little while, and we won both our games against Brisbane Lions recently.”
Now having completed the 2021 season from a matchday perspective, Smith is looking forward to a big 2022, coming off a club champion award with the Cats this year. The former netballer said she had chosen the oblong ball game after finding the height difference difficult on the netball court, with the 158cm teenager having to compete against far taller opponents.
“I’ve always prioritised netball up until I started playing footy, when I started realised that I actually really enjoy footy and it’s probably the sport for me because it incorporates everything that is my strengths,” she said. “Where with netball it was getting to the point where I was playing really well, and I was still playing my best game, but it was getting really hard because everyone around me was growing, and everyone I was versing was like six foot and I’m not even close to that, so it was getting really hard, so I did choose AFL in the end, and I liked footy better anyway.”
Smith lists her main strength as her fitness, which she credited to her father, who used to be a professional triathlete, for preparing “amazing running programs” which she follows. It was a combination of being able to utilise her strengths, and playing alongside friends over the journey that really kept her in the sport.
“I just really loved that it’s such a hard game to play, but some things that my dad and I were talking about recently was that it’s a creative game. It was a really weird conversation we were having,” Smith said. “We were saying how with rugby or something like that, it was very up and back, but with footy you have to have some kind of creativity to confuse the opposite team.
“That’s what I’ve always done, even when I was playing netball. I was very short when I was playing netball, so I had to come up with creative ways to get around my player and different leading patterns that were really confusing, and I think that’s what I really love about it. Just figuring out how to play as you go.”
“I’ve also loved playing football with Isabella Iverach and Tara Harrington who are from my club. Bella and I started together as 13 year olds and have now played at the Suns Academy together for several years. “Tara is amazing and played in our under 15 and 17 grand finals as an underage player. “I hope we all keep developing together over the next few years.”
Her football career is not the only aspect of her life that is blossoming, with the 17-year-old also a children’s show television presenter, having been involved in a number of roles. Her main presenting role is Shake Takes, which Smith said she enjoys immensely.
“I actually work for Channel 10 as a presenting role for a kids show where I just either do product integrations or I just do some fun things,” she said. “I get time off school to basically just do adventures, and they film me and then that’s the show basically.
“But I started on Nickelodeon, I got onto the show Slime Cup and from there they really liked what I brought to the show, so they got me onto the Kids Choice Awards where I got to work with Sally Pearson, and Crash the Bash, where I got to work with some of the cricket players. “That’s how I started with my presenting.”
If you thought that was already a full plate, Smith models for quemodels and has an Instagram account of more than 35,000 followers. Throw in the fact she also fulfils another passion in her stage acting, and Smith is never bored. Her stage acting which she “loves” has a particular Shakespearian focus.
“I also do a lot of stage acting, so I was the youngest person to make it into the Shakesfest State Finals which I actually came second in, which is basically like a Shakespeare competition,” Smith said. “I do a lot of Shakespeare, I played Julia in Romeo and Juliet in my school’s production. “I’ve also been auditioning for Belle Shakespeare for the past three years, which is another Shakespeare competition which is run out of Sydney, and if you get into the top five, you get to perform in the Sydney Opera House.”
The obvious question to ask if those trying to comprehend that workload can find the words to muster it, is ‘how do you find the time?’
“Yeah everybody asks me that question, and honestly I don’t know,” Smith laughed. “I just find the time. “Being really committed, my social life. “Everyone thinks I wouldn’t have a social life, but I actually do. “I don’t know how I have time for it all, honestly. “I do get sleep I promise.”
So, factoring in everything that drives Smith and all her passions, just what is it, that this talented, multi-faceted teenager wants to get out of life?
“Hopefully over the next few years I’ll be able to get drafted and play footy at the top level,” she said. “That’s what I really hope, but I would also love to have a presenting role within the AFL and I guess being drafted is a great way to get my name out. I’m just really inspired by someone like Abbey Holmes or Daisy Pearce, that kind of presenting role, that’s somewhere I’d like to take it. “But then I’d also love to just be a movie actor, but I’m working out that one.”
Picture credit: FerrisFotos