Chicago’s Jason Holmes obviously got his directions mixed up when he asked where Swans training would be held this week. Instead of making the journey to Waveland field to prepare for the weekends match against Minnesota, Jason jumped on a flight to Australia and is training with the Sydney Swans with hopes on winning his name on Sydney’s international rookie list.
Anthony Hendrie, coach of the Chicago Swans has been running Jason through the motions at training and has been impressed not only with his raw athleticism but with the speed in which he has picked up the game. “At some point someone joins the club and really impresses for a number of reasons; Jason is one of these guys. Once he hones his kicking & handball skills, his height and agility will put him in line to play a number of postions very well in our game. Something to be genuinely excited about!”
Club president Frank Bradley echoed those sentiments, “…after a couple practices and metro games he showed one thing only a few of the new American recruits to the game possessed, a desire to learn and get better every time he played. His enthusiasm for learning the game, paired with his physical abilities, will be what makes him a very appealing recruit for the Swans.”
Holmes is looking to emulate players like Canada’s Mike Pyke, Ireland’s Tadhg Kennelly and USA’s Eric Wallace to make an impact back in Australia. Jason’s 203cm frame has been a welcome sight down at Friday Night Metro games for all but the opposing ruckman. Winning almost every tap playing in the ruck, kicking four goals for the season and showing aggression through the packs to get the ball have shown his skills have come a long way in just three “Aussie Rules” footy matches.
One player who might be glad to see Holmes take an extended trip to Australia is Chicago’s starting ruckman and USA revolution player Jason Wilhelm who has been battling with the 6′ 8″ frame of Holmes in Chicago’s “Friday Night Footy” league this season. Wilhelm spent last season with the Gin Gin Eagles in country Western Australia and has done battle against quality opponents both in Australia and the US over his short 4 year aussie rules career. When asked about Holmes he wished the big man all the best, “… Jason is going to be something special. The kid has hands that just attract the ball, and stuck like glue. His ability to read situations and adapt, while constantly learning and asking what more he can do is inspiring. His size, ability and heart will take him far. I’m excited to see what he brings to the sport internationally and here in the US. Good luck mate!”
On the other side of the tap, Swans midfielder Doug Malcolm had this to say, “Playing against Jason feels like you’re going up against someone who is a foot taller than you. And maybe that’s because he is.” He went on to explain how it has helped improve everyones skills at the club. “…now you don’t have to be perfect with your kicks. Just put it up high and he’ll go get it.”
Jason will be in Australia for a two-week try out with the Sydney Swans and then will have a chance to visit with other AFL clubs. The Chicago Swans wish Jason all the best and hope he makes it back to the states in time for the USAFL Nationals in October.
Related links: AFL.com.au – US trio to train with Swans