Essendon recruit Jye Caldwell credits boxing for teaching him how to stay calm.
And with his proposed move to the Bombers seemingly ‘on the ropes’ - to steal a boxing term – during a nervy finish to the trade period, the 20-year-old had his composure tested while following from his family home in Bendigo.
“The wait wasn’t ideal. I was outside doing a fair bit throughout the arvo but in the last hour I flicked on Fox Footy to keep an eye on it. I was pretty good except for that last half an hour,” Caldwell told essendonfc.com.au.
“It gave me adrenaline and excitement when it was finally done, and now I’m here at Essendon and looking forward to 2021.”
The former Giant’s wish to become a Bomber was granted in the dying minutes of deadline day, in a deal that also netted picks Nos. 44 and 74 in exchange for pick No.29 and a future second-round selection.
A highly touted junior taken at pick No.11 in the 2018 NAB AFL Draft, Caldwell broke into a star-studded GWS midfield to play 11 games in two seasons, attracting several suitors but landing on the Bombers as his preferred destination.
In Essendon, he saw a club he could flourish at alongside fellow youngsters under new senior coach Ben Rutten, as he strives to become one of the game’s quality inside midfielders on the big stage.
On Jye alert.— Essendon FC (@essendonfc) November 18, 2020
Lookin' ?? in the red and black. pic.twitter.com/6IN2cb5QqQ
“It’s a very powerful club, a big Melbourne club. There are good young players coming through as well with the likes of (Darcy) Parish, (Andrew) McGrath and (Jordan) Ridley. I think it’s the place to be for the future,” he said.
“I’m really looking forward to getting to know ‘Truck’ (Rutten) on a coach level but also a personal level as well. He’s a really good fella and I can’t wait to play under him.
“I want to be that inside midfielder that plays 200 games with a couple of flags. It’s hard work and hopefully I’ll get there.”
While Bombers fans have only seen a glimpse of Caldwell’s talent, obvious strengths emerge in his highlights package - tough, aggressive and quick-thinking.
They’re traits Caldwell puts down to his days in the ring, which culminated in him winning Victoria’s state junior boxing title as a 13-year-old.
A talented junior cricketer and basketballer as well, Caldwell’s ambition was to always become an AFL footballer, but that quest didn’t come without its setbacks.
In his draft year, he endured two separate hamstring strains, a calf injury, concussion and blow to the kidney.
The first hamstring injury suffered in Vic Country’s opening game of the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships was a serious one, forcing Caldwell to miss the rest of the carnival.
He returned for the Bendigo Pioneers later in the year before a minor strain to the other hamstring saw him sit out the Draft Combine.
It’s a testament to his talent and resilience, however, that Caldwell was still drafted in the first round.
Two years on, he feels he's better placed than ever to handle the rigours of AFL footy.
“The first two years (of AFL) I was building myself up and I had a couple of injuries over the last two years,” he said.
“But I’ve found a routine with my Pilates and some extra work to hit the ground running for my third season. I’m really confident (in my body).”
Caldwell joins Peter Wright and Nick Hind as the club’s trade acquisitions, with the next batch of new Bombers to come via the 2020 NAB AFL Draft.
The draft is set to revert to a one-night event on December 9, with details yet to be confirmed.
Essendon holds picks Nos. 6, 7, 8, 44, 77, 85 and 87, which can be traded before and during the draft.