A longtime dream has come true.

Osceola High softball shortstop Audra Thompson, who has long been a fan from afar of the Troy University program in Troy, Alabama, officially became a Trojan Wednesday when she signed her National Letter of Intent to play there collegiately.

Thompson will enter her fourth varsity season for the Kowboys this February with the weight of “What’s next?” off her shoulders.

“It was a big weight taken off me,” she said. “Now I can focus on our team’s road to the state tournament. This is a big season for me and I want to go out with a bang with my sisters. The team’s going to be really strong, we only lost one senior player.”

Thompson, who hit close to .500 over her sophomore and junior seasons at OHS, said she first met with the Troy coaching staff in eighth grade, first stepped on campus between her freshman and sophomore years and orally committed to Troy early in her sophomore year — that’s how strong of a commitment she’s made to herself, her game and the Trojan program.

“There have been other programs who made offers, but Troy’s been home,” she said.

Osceola Coach Miranda Watford, an alum and a longtime assistant to Coach George Coffey, takes over in 2020 after Coffey’s retirement. She has no doubt Thompson will represent well in Alabama.

“She does whatever it takes, she’s determined to succeed,” the coach said.

Watford, who has played the game at a high level, including a stint in the National Professional Fastpitch softball league, said that Thompson’s skill set may already be college-ready.

“It’s my job to get these kids to be better than I ever got,” Watford said.

At Wednesday’s signing, Thompson thanked a legion of youth league, high school and travel coaches for hitting her thousands of grounders and throwing hours of live pitching, like Fred Klammer and Charlotte Gleason.

Wednesday’s signing was also attended by her parents Sandra and Jon Thompson, stepfather Tim Snyder and grandparents Jim and Connie Thompson, who Audra said have never missed a game.

“I had coaches who for years pushed me to my best and never saying ‘no’ to coming out on weekends or after practice to hit grounders, and teaching me the knowledge of the game,” Thompson said. “My teammates are my sisters on and off the field, and my family has kept picking me up when I’m down and never giving up on me even when I would give up on myself.

“Around here we say, ‘Once a Kowboy, always a Kowboy,’ but now it’s time to say, ‘Go Trojans.'”