The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on high school recruits seeking places to play in college.
There's been a lot of uncertainty, a lot of questions and in a lot of cases, fewer scholarship opportunities.
Malia Thoms knows the feeling.
The Waverly junior softball infielder was talking to college coaches and taking visits but was being told there may not be roster spots as college players were given the option of an extra year.
"That kind of was a stopping point for me because I was like, 'I kind of want to get this over with,'" Thoms said of the recruiting process.
A moment two weeks ago inside the Gordon Training Complex opened a big door for Thoms, and on Tuesday night, she called Rhonda Revelle to tell the longtime NU coach that she was committing to the Huskers.
Thoms' patience was tested but ultimately rewarded.
"As soon as I went on my visit and after that, I was like, 'Yup, there's no place like Nebraska,'" Thoms said. "I was just thinking that it'd be cool to represent my home state."
Thoms is the only known in-state recruit in the Huskers' 2023 class. Lincoln Southwest infielder Ashley Smetter is part of the 2022 class and will sign with the Huskers in the coming weeks.
Thoms, who took an official visit the weekend of the Nebraska-Michigan football game, said she was not expecting a Husker offer.
The offer came after Thoms, her parents and Husker coaches walked into the Gordon Training Complex, which is located next to Bowlin Stadium.
"(We) went into this back room and it was me, (assistant coach) Diane (Miller), Rhonda, and my mom and dad, and (Revelle says), 'We have a spot on our roster for someone and we want it to be someone special, and Malia, is there anyone else in this room besides you?' I said no. She goes, 'There you go.'"
It was a big moment for Thoms, who had visited schools such as UCF and Western Illinois in addition to NU but wasn't getting the offers she wanted.
"I was a little nervous," said Thoms, who plays club ball for the Kansas City Aces. "It was the real first offer that I got, but I was very happy to know that someone else has a spot for me."
Thoms recently completed her third season starting for Waverly. She was slowed by a broken toe injury but still hit .431 with five homers and 19 RBIs.
At Nebraska, Thoms will play "wherever they need me."
And at Nebraska, Thoms will get a chance to live out a dream of playing Division I softball.
"I think that playing at Nebraska means that I'm close to home and that I'm grateful to represent my home state, and I get to watch my brothers grow up and see my family," she said. "Yeah, I think it's really cool."
Reach Clark Grell at 402-473-2639 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter at @LJSSportsGrell.