JACK Simmons was at home on Monday preparing study notes. The St Francis Xavier's College year-11 student has a big term ahead leading up to half-yearly exams.
But the more he tried to concentrate on school work, the more his head swirled.
And with good reason.
On Saturday night, the 17-year-old midfielder became the third youngest player in Newcastle Jets history when he made an eye-catching debut off the bench in a 6-1 rout over Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.
"To make my debut at 17... not many kids get to do that," Simmons said. "It was a great experience and something I will remember forever. I am meant to be doing some study notes today but it's the school holidays, so I am enjoying a break while I can."
Indeed, it was an emotional night for Simmons. His sister, Hannah, and girlfriend, Imogen, were in the grandstand. His mother, Kim, and other sister, Claudia, were at home, eyes glued on the television. All swelling with pride as would have his late father, Paul, who died in a car accident in 2015.
"There was a range of emotions," Simmons said. "I was excited as well as proud to represent everyone back home. Mum is my biggest supporter. She drives me everywhere and sacrifices a lot. My two sisters as well, they help me balance my soccer with school. I am really blessed. I feel like dad is up above watching me and guiding me all the way. He loved his football and used to play for Kotara South. I never feel as though I am without him. I'd say, he would be having a beer up there, proud of me. I know he would want me to be doing this, doing what I love every day."
Installed in the No.10 position - a role normally reserved for imports and elite Aussies - Simmons didn't look out of place and threaded a pass, albeit deflected, for the Jets' final goal by Kwabena Appiah.
"The pass was meant for Roy but I'll take it," Simmons said. "It was great that Ernie put me there and had trust in me. I was really appreciative of it. He told me to enjoy myself and play my normal game and be as big an influence as I could. There was no pressure at all put on me."
A Kotara South Tigers junior, Simmons was 15 when he first played against men for the Jets youth team in the Northern NSW National Premier League last season.
"It was tough," he said. "They try to run straight through you but that was a good experience as well."
Simmons made his senior debut for the Jets in the pre-season, scoring off the bench, in a 2-0 win over Shanghai Shenhua in the Super Champions Cup tournament in Haikou, China.
"Even though it was pre-season, it gave me confidence for Saturday, knowing I have had minutes under my belt," he said. "That calmed the nerves a bit and definitely helped."
The attacking midfielder trains two days a week with the A-League squad and two sessions with the youth team. He packs his school uniform in his kit bag and heads to class after training.
"Everyone at SFX have been really good with helping me juggle my football commitments," he said. "The teachers are always helping me catch up on school work. They have been a great influence. I like school and will certainly stay until I'm finished [my HSC] and get something behind my name."
Simmons hopes to retain his place on the bench for the final game against Sydney FC at McDonald Jones Stadium.
The next big target is selection in the Australian Joeys for the under-17 FIFA World Cup to be played in Brazil in October.
"Obviously, it would be awesome to represent my country at a World Cup," Simmons said. "My goal is to just keep working hard here in Newcastle and try get involved as much as I can with the first team."