Merced’s Nickles might have to put Olympic dream on hold

Local Sports

MERCED, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — Back in the fall, former Merced High softball star Madilyn “Bubba” Nickles got word she had made the United States Olympic Softball Team.

“I went to my email and sure enough I saw it (that she had made the team),” remembered Nickles over the phone on Monday. “I was at a loss for words at that moment. That was honestly, one of the best days of my life.”

But her team’s preparations for Tokyo have been put on hold, with reports indicating the Games might need to be postponed until 2021.

There is nothing official from the International Olympic Committee yet, but longtime IOC member Dick Pound told USA Today on Monday that the Games would be postponed until 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This obviously, is a tough blow to take for Nickles, who was taking this season off as a redshirt at UCLA, while preparing for the Tokyo Games with the rest of her Team USA teammates.

They were in the middle of a pre-Olympic tour playing games against college teams across the country when the pandemic struck, so Nickles is now back home in Merced with her family.

She says if the Olympics do get postponed until some time in 2021, it will make her appreciate the experience even more.

“Softball, it’s so big, but it’s so small at the same time in the world,” said Nickles. “And with everything going on, that makes me grateful that I have the opportunity to play because there are so many people out there going through far harder times.”

For now, the former Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2016 at Merced High, and 2019 first-team All-American on a national championship-winning UCLA team, just waits at home like everyone else.

She says she is trying to appreciate the unexpected family time, and trying her best to keep herself softball-ready.

“Honestly, just trying to make the most of it, making use of my boyfriend’s home gym,” said Nickles. “I’ve been hitting off of a tee.”

Bubba was one of 15 players, along with three replacement players, who made the Team USA roster back in October.

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