Southern Stars and Queensland all-rounder Jess Jonassen has overcome her share of challenges to shape as a key player in the upcoming Women's Ashes Series. The 22 year-old has made it through a gruelling pre-season camp, overcome recent knee injuries, adapted to different roles in her teams, and is in the final stages of a Law degree.
Born in the Central Highlands region of Queensland, the left-hander is another of cricket's proud products of the country.
"I was born in Emerald and grew up in Rockhampton and played all my junior cricket there. I moved to Brisbane when I graduated (from high school) to further my cricket and studies. I was often away with cricket camps from a young age so that made the transition a lot easier - I had learnt to be independent and cope with being away from home. When I moved, I lived with Delissa Kimmince, who is a Queensland and Australian teammate, and a country girl as well, so that helped as well."
Jess is in her sixth year of studying.
"I started out doing a double degree and then I broke into the Australian team, so my cricket demands really ramped up. I like the challenge of Law. I didn't do any legal studies at school but my dad and my sister are both teachers in business and legal studies, so perhaps some of that has rubbed off on me."
Realising she is a chance to complete her degree at the end of the year, Jess enquired about work placement as part of the ACA's Beyond the Boundary program.
"It's exciting to be close to finishing but daunting at the same time, and I thought it would be useful to undergo a placement. It turned out that my (cricket) schedule was fairly open in the early part of the year so it was a great time to get things rolling."
Beyond the Boundary provides opportunities for currently contracted ACA members to take part in a paid work placement within an industry of their choosing. Jess teamed up with Brisbane law firm McCormicks and said her placement was an enjoyable one but not without its challenges.
"It was my first job working nine-to-five and I found that quite difficult at first; I found myself getting quite tired. I was amazed by the amount of work the staff get through, how efficient they are and how they deal with clients on a daily basis. Everyone was very welcoming and fortunately I worked on a few things that I've studied recently - so that helped me get my head around a few different concepts. McCormicks deal predominantly in the music and entertainment industries, and a little in sports law - as well as the general commercial space. What was attractive to me was the sport and music, which are two of my passions."
Jess admitted that she's a keen guitarist.
"I haven't picked it up for a while but I enjoy playing when I can. I've never taken it on tour, but I guess there's always a chance for a first time!"
Asked about her prospects of working in the legal industry down the track, Jess was optimistic.
"I'm not sure if it's a job that would have the flexibility I need while I'm still playing, but it's nice knowing there's something for me after my (playing) career is finished. Beyond the Boundary is a really good program for helping with planning for post-cricket careers and I know a lot of the female cricketers, especially, have gone through it in various fields, and can see the benefits of doing it."
Jess has been able to access other ACA services, such as the Education Grants.
"It makes everything a whole lot easier and you can focus more on your cricket knowing you've got that support network off the field allowing you to do that."
Up to this point, Jess hasn't been hit up for legal advice by her Queensland Fire team mates.
"One of my team mates was Kirsten Pike, who is a practising solicitor so I was able to leave her to handle those things! There's things to do with contracts that I can see coming in handy because with women's cricket becoming more professional each year, understanding the nitty gritty will be helpful."
As part of their preparation for the upcoming Ashes tour, Jess joined the other players in the Southern Stars squad in a pre-season camp with the Southern Stars.
"The camp was tough, demanding. We were on (food) rations and it was physically challenging, but it was nice to spend time with the group in an environment you wouldn't normally be in. Doing as 20km hike on minimal food was tough!
"We've unfortunately fallen short in the past couple of (Ashes) years but I'm confident the form we've shown of late and in the World Cups demonstrate that we're a really solid, consistent side and hopefully that holds us in good stead. Following the camp we're ramping up our skills sessions so we're really well prepared for the Ashes.
"From a personal perspective, it's nice to see the hard work starting to pay off, especially having overcome a couple of knee injuries. Hopefully they're behind me now and I can put some consistent performances on the board for both the Southern Stars and Queensland. I'd like to occupy the crease for longer periods of time. Recently I was promoted to opening the batting in some games and I've consistently got to about 40 without really going on with it, so that's something I'd like to improve on."
Jess credits an early mentor with her rapid rise through the ranks.
"Scott Deeth was my first ever cricket coach and he had a huge impact on my career back in Rocky. I was originally a pace bowler back in Under 12s and he'd done some research into the game and recognised that there weren't too many female spinners playing - particularly left-handed ones - so I owe a lot to him for where I am today. Scott's still a massive supporter of mine and any chance I'm back home he'll send me a message to see if I want to go for a hit."
The coaching reins of the Southern Stars have recently been taken by former New South Wales and Glamorgan coach Matthew Mott. The former s and Victorian batsman has also had recent stints with the Sydney Sixes and helping Ireland's campaign throughout the World Cup.
"I'd had a few sessions with him previously (prior to his appointment) and he offers a different perspective and view of the game. He's fairly well travelled as well so he's able to give an insight into his experiences in other countries as well. It's really exciting times ahead for our team I reckon."