Madilyn Nickles is the youngest member of the USA Softball national program. At only 18 years old, she has already traveled the world playing for the national team before suiting up for her first game as a UCLA Bruin.
Two weeks ago, Nickles, an infielder, played in her first World Cup of Softball as part of the USA Elite squad, helping the team finish fourth in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The California native took some time to talk with The Season about her experiences with USA Softball and the sport she loves.
- When did you first realize this was a sport you wanted to take and run with?
Since I was little I always had a love and passion for softball. My parents really helped me to believe this was the sport for me. I really just had fun with it all throughout my life. It’s exciting.
What is it about softball that attracted you to it?
I absolutely love having an adrenaline rush in intense situations. I think it’s pretty cool to be in a tight game or to have the game on the line and it’s up to you to get the job done.
What was your reaction to making Team USA?
It was really a great moment. I never expected at my age to be able to play and represent my country. Just the fact I get to play with so many girls who are recognized on a worldwide level now. I saw them playing on TV when they were in college. I think it’s pretty cool.
What was it like the first time you took the field wearing your USA jersey?
It was pretty nerve wracking. I kind of felt like I had a lot of weight on my back. I kind of like that. Having the spotlight on me, it makes me a better player.
What are your long-term goals in softball?
I really want to meet as many girls as I can and just be able to get better. I don’t have one particular goal. I’m enjoying the ride.
How important is confidence?
I think to get better on your own you really have to believe in yourself. Not expecting too much of yourself. Obviously I’m the youngest on this team, and it can be hard at times to think that I should be playing at the same level as the rest of the team. But it’s all in my head. And you just need to give yourself the confidence and do as many reps as you can to give yourself that confidence.
From GameChanger and Michael Kinney.