WEST Wallsend High graduate Alyssa Charter-Smith is "beyond excited" to have accepted a softball scholarship in the United States.
Otero Junior College in La Junta, Colorado, offered Alyssa, 17, the scholarship at the start of the year. She accepted in March and signed the paperwork in November.
"I'm so beyond excited," she said.
"When I was younger I thought 'Staying in dorm rooms is going to be so cool', and now I'm talking to my roommates about how we're going to decorate the room. How is this real? How can I be going over there?"
Alyssa, who was chosen in the Aussie Diamonds Junior Female Futures Tour team this year, plans to fly over to the US next August to take up the scholarship, which will also see her study arts, majoring in psychology and minoring in criminal justice.
"I'm hoping everything settles down [with COVID-19] by the time I'm over there," she said.
"There's a real chance I could get stuck over there... but you can't plan for anything at the moment."
Alyssa flew to the US last year and played for a travel ball team during the American summer.
She was based in Maryland but played in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, New York and New Jersey. Around the same time she registered with Next College Student Athlete recruiting, which allows athletes to build an online profile, post videos and communicate with college scouts and coaches.
She said while a few scouts saw her play while she was in the US - and made her offers - Otero contacted her after watching her videos.
She said she spoke to the coach and players and was drawn to having an on-campus job, the college's teacher to studio ratio, plus the opportunity to be involved in community service and a student body group.
"I'm not just a girl coming from Australia playing softball and getting out, I really want to make memories, make friends, share my experiences with other people and get new experiences as well."
Alyssa, a pitcher, started playing tee-ball aged five with Newcastle and District Softball Association's Club Macquarie.
Her mum, aunts and grandfather had also played the sport.
She played representative softball with the association, before moving to Budgewoi and playing representative softball with the Central Coast Softball Association.
She is currently with Pittwater and plays representative softball with the Manly Warringah Softball Association.
She has also been a "pick up" player for Victoria. Alyssa said she relished the strategy of softball.
"You can be winning by ten runs but still somehow lose in the end. It's anyone's game.
"From the beginning you have to be really strategic... it's all about the mental game. I love high pressure situations now."