Haley Nelson, the baby in a family of athletes, goes own way for St. Charles North. ‘I really fell in love with it.’

It seems natural that St. Charles North’s Haley Nelson would gravitate toward athletics.

After all, for the senior outfielder, it’s the family business, isn’t it?

Nelson’s father, Paul, is the athletic director at Benedictine, where the Driscoll graduate played on the basketball team, assisted on the men’s coaching staff and then led the women’s program over a span of 15 years before moving into administration.

Haley’s brother, Colin, who is older by four years, played basketball at Loras. Morgan, her older sister, is a sophomore on the soccer team at Augustana. And their mother, Kathleen, was a high school athlete in gymnastics and soccer.

Haley tried all of those sports, but the baby of the family found her own path.

“My dad never pushed us to be in a sport,” Nelson said after Monday’s softball game was washed out. “If we had chosen to not play, I’m sure my parents would have been totally fine with that.

“Individually, we’ve all fallen in love with our own sport. We always did our separate ones.”

Haley Nelson has separated herself from the pack this season for the North Stars (16-5). She’s hitting .362 with two home runs and a .474 on-base percentage. And that’s not all.

“She can play shortstop but has been in the outfield the last couple years,” St. Charles North coach Tom Poulin said. “I coached her brother in basketball. He was on that 2020 team that was about to make some history, until we got sent home (by the pandemic).”

Finding her niche, which led to her commitment to Augustana for softball, wasn’t a straight line.

It even took her time to get comfortable in softball.

“When I was 8, I used to pitch but I quit,” she said. “I didn’t like having to chase the ball down the street when I pitched it over my dad’s head when he was sitting on the bucket in the driveway.

“I wasn’t a runner.”

That also was a factor in her early departures from soccer and basketball. The 5-foot-10 Nelson was more of a role player last season in softball, her first on varsity after two with the junior varsity.

“I feel like last year my role was more supporting others and cheering them on,” she said. “Now, I have more of an action role and I’m trying to make the most of it.

“I try to put the nerves aside and remember this is for fun. Technically, I’m a utility player. That’s what I’ll be in college.”

Above all, though?

“She’s a great athlete,” Poulin said. “She has made a big jump in production from last year to this year. She’s worked really hard and has been a pleasant surprise.

“She’s improved across the board in every category.”

Nelson, who batted .286 in limited duty as a junior, credited her work with St. Charles-based hitting coach Steve Cihlar for much of that improvement.

“I think I always loved it, but freshman and sophomore years, I had a really big slump and it was discouraging,” she said. “I started the lessons and working in my garage in the winter and started seeing results. Obviously, you have more fun when you hit the ball, and I really fell in love with it.

“(Cihlar) gives lesson out of his garage and he’s awesome. He knows what he’s talking about.”

Anna Lamb, a junior who played JV with Nelson, called her teammate a sweetheart and a team player.

“She can rake,” Lamb said of Nelson. “She’s awesome in the outfield, too. She dives for everything — lays out all the way. It’s been fun to watch the strides she’s made.”

Nelson, who plans to major in biology, hopes to become a physician’s assistant.

“It’s not set in stone, yet,” she said. “I want to do something in the medical field to help people out in that way.”

As always, a team player.