It's a moment Taylor Nelson and her soccer teammates have been waiting for a long time.
Now that the New Prairie junior is on the cusp of being part of the school's first varsity team, she's keeping her fingers crossed -- and her mask on -- that the season will actually come to fruition.
"It's amazing. I think about basketball, how far they've come, and what it was like to be the first team to play. That's how we're going to be for soccer," Nelson said. "It's a huge deal for all the girls. We've been told it was going to be a (varsity) sport for a while and now it's actually become one. We've gotten really close together and dedicated ourselves to it. Whether we win or lose, we're all proud to be making history, being a part of the sport."
While a good number of schools across northwest Indiana have had their summer workouts cut short by positive coronavirus tests, New Prairie has had no such issues with athletes.
"We haven't has any pauses, no bad news," Nelson said. "We've been doing pretty good around here compared a lot of other schools you hear about. I play basketball, too, and when we come to practice, all the sports, we wear a mask until we're practicing. We all wash our hands. Everybody's trying not to complain and not make it a big deal. In the back of our mind, we know there can be a lot of problems with sticking to it, but we're thinking what we're going to have will be normal, and we're all going to be ready for any scenario."
Football will delay its official start until Wednesday, lining up with the quarantine duration of an affected coach.
"We are excited to finally be a school sport here at New Prairie, but we are also a little apprehensive with the way things will go with everything that is happening," Cougars coach Kasey Doorn said.
A three-sport athlete (soccer, basketball tennis), Nelson took up the sport when she was four or five, doing all the clubs and camps around New Prairie. The center-midfielder was named the captain of the school club team as a freshman and has also earned that distinction for the Cougars' initial varsity squad.
"I started off not really liking soccer, but as I got to high school, it probably became my favorite and my best," she said. "I really enjoy it. I'd love to play soccer in college. I'm not completely focused on that being what I'm going to do, but it would be awesome if I did. It's really awesome, being named captain when it's actually a (varsity) sport, it means something."
Nelson has already proven to be a leader, coordinating efforts with teammates as they prepare for their anticipated debut season.
"I don't do a lot of travel soccer, but I play a lot of indoor (in Michigan)," she said. "I play a lot with the guys team, which helps a ton. I try to get small groups together and find older people to play with. We've got a lot of younger people, but we played in middle school together and now we've all moved up to high school. It's good to play with them again, like how it used to be. We're all really excited to play other schools. We're going to be the underdog because we're brand new but we'll be out to prove everyone wrong."
New Prairie junior Taylor Nelson is anxious for the school's first season of varsity soccer after graduating from club status. She hopes the wait won't be extended by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo provided)