We'd usually see our brightest college athletes living the dream and playing elite sport overseas this time of year, but with Covid-19 cases in the US worsening, it's putting young Kiwi dreams on hold and competition in doubts.
The US scholarship experience is one Tayla Dalton has dreamt of - and, global pandemic or not, she's going for it.
“My tummy has just been in knots the whole time. I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m scared, I’m sad to leave my family but it's good nerves,” she said before leaving for a scholarship at San Francisco's St Mary's College.
For Dalton, the daughter of late Silver Fern Tania Dalton, home's now going to be a long way away.
“I’ve got Mum’s perfume so it will be nice to have a smell with me so home will be with me wherever I go,” she said.
The Kiwi basketball player's heading to America tomorrow, among many athletes following through with their scholarship programmes.
Auckland swimmer Andie Quirke is already at Iowa State University, completing two weeks of isolation as the reality of her situation hits home.
“My parents were meant to be coming with me. They were going to come up at Christmas, I’d come home next year. And just knowing I don’t know when I'll see my friends and family again is, I think, the hardest part about it all,” Quirke said.
With more students returning to campus, Quirke's Iowa State University recorded more than 600 Covid-19 cases in the past week.
Competition across all codes remains up in the air.
For junior Football Fern Genevieve Ryan, her soccer season's been rescheduled for January, delaying her departure for New Jersey. Instead, she's training back here and completing classes online.
“It was more of an easy decision to stay, you know, with what I know and in a safer country at the moment, and so it was almost like a no brainer.”