Jadyn Nielsen may not be a familiar name to the softball community on Guam, but she will be soon enough as she becomes one of the newly committed collegiate athletes of CHamoru descent.
Nielsen, 16, last visited Guam when she was a young girl so she does not have many memories of her time on island, but her parents made it a point to make the island a part of her life.
Jadyn Nielsen's strongest tie to Guam is through her mother, Janine Nielsen, who is a member of the Servino family from Barrigada Heights. She was also part of the Academy of Our Lady of Guam’s class of 1987.
“It is important for Jadyn to be connected to her CHamoru culture,” Janine Nielsen said. “She was baptized in the Catholic faith, which is a big part of our culture not only going to Mass and receiving sacraments, but also attending midnight Mass, nobenas and rosaries.”
Along with her faith, the Nielsens' stay connected to the island through family gatherings, which often have CHamoru family members present and attending events that celebrate the Pacific islands in Southern California.
“She [Jadyn] supports local events like PIFA (Pacific Islander Festival Association) in San Diego and other island festivals in California," Janine Nielsen said. "Of course, she enjoys the CHamoru food at our family parties and her favorite dish is beef kelaguen.”
Although Jadyn Nielsen's parents made sure to keep the CHamoru culture alive in her life, it wasn’t until recently when she committed to the University of Hawaii at Manoa to play softball that she felt a sense of pride of being closely tied to Guam.
“I have recently been influenced after finding out the Guam Sports Network posted about me on Instagram,” Jadyn said. “I was surprised but also kind of happy that I get to represent Guam when I go to UH-Manoa.”
Jadyn Nielsen's father, Jon Nielsen, who also has connections to Guam through childhood friends and multiple business ventures, has gotten a better sense of the influence being CHamoru has on his daughter, especially in her softball career.
“Jadyn doesn’t really understand how the culture rubbed off on her like the innate work ethic and different things that represent all the islands,” said Jon Nielsen, who has coached Jadyn since she started playing softball at the age of 8 and still does.
Jadyn Nielsen is currently a junior at Cerritos High School in California, so she has committed to play at UH-Manoa at the earliest possible time. Thankfully, the pandemic did not have as much of an impact on the recruitment process as other girls in her position, so until she leaves for school she will be training in her backyard gym and playing for her father’s travel team.
As Jadyn Nielsen enters this next chapter of her life, she’ll have the entire island looking on and rooting for her in all her accomplishments and goals.
“My goal is to become an All-American or be voted one of the all-conference players all four years of college," she said. "I’d also like to compete in the Olympics."