ATWATER, Calif. – Madilyn “Bubba” Nickles was back at her home in Atwater recently, and the memories were flooding back for the Nickles family, especially when she went outside to play catch with her dad.
“Probably just practicing with my dad brought back a lot of memories,” said Nickles. “J just really grew up with him all the time.”
“You think of all the stuff you guys did together, all the travel, all the ups and downs,” said her father Ted.
“Even when we would go to the amusement park,” said her mother Natalie. “If there was a line, and the little chain. She was the first one in line, and she wanted to get first.”
Blessed with that kind of competitiveness, Ted and Natalie exposed their young daughter to all kinds of sports, but one eventually emerged as her favorite, and playing that sport had an added bonus.
“When I got older, about ten year’s old, my dad said, ‘hey, they have softball,'” said Bubba. “And so I was like, ‘dad no way, there’s softball in the Olympics.'”
A little over a decade later, that same girl is getting ready to compete in the Olympics.
“To have an Olympic uniform,” said a smiling Bubba. “It’s so cool.”
Bubba has already had some great moments along the way, like when softball legend Jennie Finch came to Merced High School in 2016 to tell Bubba she had been named the Gatorade High School National Player of the Year, or when Bubba won a national championship as a junior at UCLA.
Got a feeling though, all those moments might take a backseat, to coming back to the Central Valley with a gold medal around your neck.
“I’m gonna be wearing it probably,” said Nickles, when asked where she would put the gold medal, if her team found a way to win the Olympic softball tournament. “When I go to bed, when I wake up and brush my teeth. “I’m wearing that thing for as long as possible.”
Bubba, the youngest member of the squad, is already in Japan preparing for the Olympics with her team. The Olympic softball schedule actually gets underway a couple days before the Opening Ceremonies, so Bubba told us she will not be able to participate because they have a game the next day.