Those who know Johnsburg’s Delaney Pruitt best say she doesn’t dwell on things for very long, if at all. Even by looking at her it can be hard to find out what she is thinking or feeling no matter the situation.
“She is such an interesting character,” Skyhawks coach Rob Eastland said.
Eastland has known Pruitt for eight years, dating to when Eastland met her during club soccer. Her attitude and love for the game is what stood out when he crossed paths with the 7- or 8-year-old kid learning the game.
“She is not one to show emotions,” Eastland continued. “I think ... literally, once one game is over she is looking forward to the next one to play no matter the outcome.”
Added her father Randy Pruitt: “She’s one that always leaves it on the field. After a game, she comes home and doesn’t complain about a thing.
“She plays like it’s everything but afterwards knows it’s a game and lets it go.”
There was one instance where she broke the mold and eyed a regional final rematch against Richmond-Burton, the team that knocked out the Skyhawks during the 2012 season, her freshman year. Pruitt left an impact during this season’s rematch with an assist and two crucial goals, the tying and go-ahead goals in a 3-2 win over the Rockets that earned Johnsburg the title.
Pruitt scored a team-high 24 goals and added 12 assists and led the Skyhawks to a fourth-place finish in the IHSA Class 1A State Tournament. For her accomplishments during a breakout sophomore year, Pruitt is the Northwest Herald Girls Soccer Player of the Year.
“I think we as a team just wanted to play another game,” Pruitt said of the state-run. “The will to play was a lot stronger or greater during the playoffs and things clicked for me and for us.”
The 5-foot-1 forward sparkles on the field and spectators and opponents alike are drawn to her fancy footwork as she spins and dances around the ball before zooming past a defender with incredible speed.
Because of her size, opponents don’t take her seriously until they see the raw speed and talent she has. Rockford Lutheran coach Scott Lofgren had to make several adjustments to his defensive plan during halftime of the Skyhawks 4-2 sectional semifinal win over the Crusaders.
“[Pruitt] was beating us constantly and I had to tell our girls to not bite on her moves because she will leave you behind,” Lofgren said.
Pruitt began playing soccer at the age of five and picked up the game from her two older brothers — Caden and Dakota. She was a natural and often played at a higher age level as she was better than her peers early on.
When she would watch her brothers play, she would bring a ball along and practice her footwork. She never had to be pushed into practicing, she just did it herself.
Eastland couldn’t be happier about the opportunity to coach Pruitt for the next two years and expects her to continue to grow and believes that there is no ceiling for his star forward.
“I see her in practice, and no matter how good she is now, I know there is another gear or two in her potential,” Eastland said. “I’m excited to see her level of ability when she graduates and over the next year she will attract college attention and people will surely be scouting.”