A Waiopehu College basketball player has been awarded a scholarship to the United States and plans to leave as soon as she can.
Miya Riwaka, 17, had just finished Year 13 at secondary school studies when word came through about the scholarship offer from Central Wyoming College in Riverton, Wyoming.
"It's a dream come true," she said.
"It's been short notice ... I thought the season had finished when I got the call."
Riwaka was now applying to the US consulate for a travel visa and planned to leave as soon as she could, finances permitting.
The opportunity for the sponsored scholarship had arrived suddenly and her family had put together a fundraising page to help meet the cost of airfares, while all other costs would be met as part of the scholarship.
Once there, she will be joining fellow Kiwis Samantha Meadows and Olivia Tuipulotu on the Central Wyoming College Women's Basketball Lady Rustlers team roster through New Zealand company Lead Scholarships.
Riwaka's basketball coach at Waiopehu College, Stewart Whiting, said the scholarship was deserved as Riwaka had done a lot for girls basketball since she had arrived at the school.
"We didn't really have a girls' team. She has been a driving force behind it," he said.
The school team had competed in a Palmerston North competition, which is where Riwaka got noticed by an opposition coach who had been approached by Central Wyoming for a player suitable for a scholarship.
Whiting said he thought of Miya straight away and set up a conference call with the college.
"She is a player who is coachable with a '100 per cent' attitude, and that is exactly what they were looking for," he said.
Standing at "five foot, ten-and-a-half inches", she was already taller than both her mother and father, but would likely be one of the shorter basketball players where she was going.
After watching videos, Central Wyoming College head women's coach Lindsey Fearing was quoted as saying of Riwaka: "She is a long forward with the skills of a guard. We're excited to have her come to Riverton."
Riwaka said the scholarship was a dream come true. She was to have travelled in Las Vegas earlier this year with the New Zealand Basketball Academy only for the trip to be canned due to Covid-19.
During the Covid-19 lockdown period she picked up a whistle and learnt how to umpire, and refereed at the U15 basketball national tournament recently.
Riwaka had played basketball for the last four years and also enjoyed playing hockey. She had joined Waiopehu College's police academy and planned to study criminology.
While the threat of Covid-19, which was now widespread in the US, was a concern the family were told that cases in Wyoming were now on the decline, and there had only been three cases in the town where she would be staying.
It was understood colleges with similar scholarships were looking to New Zealand athletes to fill spaces due to border closures in other parts of the world, like countries in South America.
The original scholarship was for six months but she hoped to get an extension to stay on and study for at least two years.
Meanwhile, Riwaka's fundraising page could be found at https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/wjx6CBNZloFMEnjPh6kVoL?domain=givealittle.co.nz