In the North Valley lately, Madilyn “Bubba” Nickles is quite an enormous deal. “It’s with great care wonderful, whenever I’m going to the grocery, ‘people are like, oh my gosh, you’re Bubba Nickles,’” said the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic Softball Team, once we trapped together with her at her house in Atwater recently, before she departed for Tokyo. And the support from her area people has extended to her mother’s workplace. “I work on Costco here in Merced,” said her mom Natalie. “And they’re producing a bunch of shirts that say, ‘we support USA softball, and (they) put her name and number on their backs.”
Bubba is employed to the present quite attention because she has been on the national radar since her high school days. She was named the Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year as a senior at Merced high school in 2016. One year later, she was named USA Softball Junior Female Athlete of the Year, then had an All-American season as a junior at UCLA, helping lead the Bruins to a national championship in 2019. But if you ask her parents, softball is simply a little a part of what makes their daughter special.
“I get more compliments on her personality, or how friendly she is, how receiving she is to people,” said her father Ted. “Her faith is extremely strong. I mean, I couldn’t be more proud.” “She’s loving and type, and generous, and just a hard-worker,” added Natalie. “And I mean, she’s all the items, and she or he makes us so proud.” It’s not surprising then, that family and friends throughout the Valley, from Sacramento to Merced, right down to Fresno, are going to be rooting her on as she goes for the gold in Tokyo. “We’re gonna have watch parties here, and invite everybody over, that desires to return the watch,” said Ted.
And win or lose, Bubba will carry together with her onto the Olympic diamond in Tokyo, the teachings learned thousands of miles away back here within the Central Valley. “Just stay faithful herself, play the sport like she’s always played it,” answered Natalie, when asked what advice she would give her daughter heading into the Olympics. “Just play hard and celebrate,” summed up Ted. “That’s how I’ve always coached her.” Bubba and Team USA will actually open Olympic competition before the Opening Ceremonies on Friday. Their first game against Italy will happen at 8 p.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday night (12 p.m. Wednesday in Tokyo). it’ll air on the NBC Sports Network.