Tokyo Olympics

Who's Better Than Bubba? How the UCLA Star Made It to the Tokyo Olympics

Merced High School and UCLA softball player Bubba Nickles didn’t make it to Tokyo without facing adversity.

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Bubba Nickles is used to success.

She became one of California’s top prep softball players at Merced High School, won the NCAA Championship at UCLA in 2019 and was in the mix to make the Olympic team.

“I was in the hotel room that we were staying in for tryouts and Rachel Garcia, my teammate, UCLA, she texted me and she told me that I made the team and so I opened up the email and I was stoked,” Nickles said.

But, she didn’t make it to Tokyo without facing adversity.

Halfway through her redshirt senior season with the Bruins, Nickles broke her wrist. The injury caused her to miss 27 games. However, she had successful surgery and made a full recovery. She started three games at the Women’s College World Series in June. Nickles finished her UCLA career with a .357 batting average and 42 home runs. 

Throughout her journey, Nickles’ parents have been her biggest supporters.

“She’s a hard worker,” Bubba’s mother, Natalie, said. “We just fully support her in all of her dreams. Whatever we can do to be there for her and allow her to be herself.”

Nickles gets the nickname “Bubba” from her father, Ted, who came up with the name years ago as a term of endearment. 

“My real name’s Madi,” Nickles said. “There’s just always been so many Madis on every team I’ve ever played on. My dad noticed that. So he wanted to call me Bubba just for fun really.”

And now, at age 23, Bubba is competing in her first Olympics.

“She’s always been a goal setter ever since she was little,” Ted Nickles said. “When she sets her mind to something she tries to accomplish it. This is one of the things that she’s done. She’s really tried and now she’s getting rewarded for all her efforts.”

Bubba added, “I’ve played with other USA teams like the junior teams for USA softball. But, nothing as cool as making the Olympic team, ever.”  

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