THERE has been a major event that has typified each of Jackson Hately's four seasons in the AFL, with the Adelaide midfielder feeling at times like he has been riding a "rollercoaster".
The highs of being a first-round pick in the 2018 NAB AFL Draft and debuting for Greater Western Sydney in 2019 were followed by the experience of moving clubs in 2020 and being at the mercy of an unpredictable Trade Period.
Last year was the toughest of all for the 21-year-old, with 2021 ruined by a groin injury that saw his season wrapped up with six weeks to go after playing just three games.
The rollercoaster seems to be on a steady, consistent climb in 2022, however, with Hately enjoying the best patch of his career so far, playing every game since round six and carving a spot in the Crows' midfield.
"They talk about your career being a bit of a rollercoaster and I've had some amazing moments," Hately told AFL.com.au.
"Getting drafted to the Giants was amazing for me and my family, and I loved those two years I had up there.
"Then last year, going through injuries that I hadn't really gone through before taught me a lot about living in the moment and doing what I can day to day.
"That was a tough year, but I feel like it's made me stronger for this year and made me more ready to take my opportunity when it came."
This year is shaping as a breakout year for Hately if he can keep his momentum going, averaging 20.9 disposals from his nine games since forcing his way into the Crows' midfield on the back of strong SANFL form.
He had a career-best 27 disposals against Brisbane in round nine and has enjoyed a consistent month rotating between wing and onball roles.
It's been a season built on hard work dating back to last off-season when Hately sacrificed time away from the club to instead invest in his rehab with the Crows' physios, making for some long, lonely days.
"I didn't run for six or seven weeks and that off-season period was critical for me," Hately said.
"There was no real break, I was just doing work in the gym and staying at the club with the physios and doctors, but that really set me up for when I started running again.
"It was something at the time where you think I wouldn't mid a few weeks off to put the feet up, but I knew I had to do it if I wanted to get right. I'm definitely in a better spot for it now."
The commitment Hately made to his physical recovery has been matched during his career by a daily investment into mental preparation through meditation.
After being introduced to the practice during his first season with the Giants, Hately has found it to be an important balance to life on the AFL rollercoaster.
"It doesn't stick with everyone, but it definitely stuck with me and now I do it every day and I feel like I get a lot out of it," he said.
"It really relaxes me, makes me feel very clear, and it's something that I really notice if I'm not doing it.
"I'll do it the morning of the game no matter when we play, and I try and get it in twice a day. Doing it consistently has been pretty important."
Hately is now enjoying his footy more than even after starting the season in the SANFL and forcing his way into the team.
He credits midfield teammate Ben Keays for setting an example for him to follow with his work rate, while captain Rory Sloane's positivity during rehab has also been contagious.
Building something special with a young group under coach Matthew Nicks and contributing to team success as soon as possible is now driving Hately as he finds his place in the team.
"When you start playing it's enjoyable to have some continuity there, now the step is winning games, because that's when you really enjoy it," he said.
"As a group, and as individuals, we're all thinking about how we can get better to ensure we win more games of footy."