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Cerritos High softball defensive star verbally commits with the University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Jadyn Nielsen 

Cerritos High junior shortstop Jadyn Nielsen, shown here with her travel softball team, the 16-U Athletics-Nielsen, verbally committed to the University of Hawai’i at Manoa the morning of Oct. 1. FILE PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer.


By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

With just under 30 games played in her first two years for the Cerritos High softball team, junior shortstop Jadyn Nielsen has verbally committed to play at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa upon her graduation in 2022. Nielsen officially made the decision on Oct. 1.

“I’m really excited to be going to Hawai’i,” Nielsen said. “I did feel a little pressure because one college kept on calling me and wanted to talk once a week, and I didn’t want to go there at all. So, once I committed, I could finally feel relieved.”

Hawai’i was always Nielsen’s number one school and the timing of her verbally committing didn’t make any difference even though she won’t officially sign until November, 2021. Before letting Hawai’i head coach Bob Coolen know of her decision, Nielsen first called the coaches of the other schools to let them know she was going to commit elsewhere.

“I think from a parent perspective, it’s a big accomplishment,” Jon Nielsen, Jadyn’s father said. “Obviously, I had this vision when [my son and daughter] were little kids and what not. But to have it actually come to fruition and all the different things that come around…I think it’s pretty exciting.”

Jadyn Nielsen said she felt the Aloha State was always a second home to her. She and her family would always spend some vacation time there and she has a lot of family and friends there. She was also the bat girl for the University of Hawai’i at Manoa softball games when the Rainbow Wahine would come to Southern California to play California State University, Fullerton, Long Beach State University. University of California, Irvine and University of California, Riverside. She has also been a bat girl for the University of Florida and University of Oregon

“I know the coaching staff really well and I have a relationship with them,” she said of Hawai’i. “It felt right to go there.”

Jadyn Nielsen had offers from Furman University, Oklahoma State University, Southern University, University of Texas-Arlington and University of California, which would have been her next pick if it wasn’t Hawai’i, plus several other inquiries. She added that she has known the Cal coach for a long time and met her when she was the bat girl for the Rainbow Wahine games.

Over the past several years, Jadyn Nielsen would go to numerous elite softball camps and where she met many of the best college softball coaches around. But it wasn’t until a couple of months ago that she knew Hawai’i was where she wanted to pursue her collegiate career. Academically, Jadyn Nielsen said she wants to major in business because her family are in that profession and have a lot of experience who can help her out.

“I used to want to be far away from my family,” she admitted. “Then recently, I wanted to be closer. But then Hawai’i would be the only exception for me.”

“I think that boys and girls are different, so both my kids have a little different journey,” Jon Nielsen said. “With softball, it’s a more personalized level of recruiting. If I didn’t have the relationship with the coach, it’s kind of hard to sign off on a program. So, I think everybody that recruited her and knew about her kind of grew at least about four or five years. It was a short list of people to begin with. Obviously, there are a bunch of power five [schools] and what not. But it was more of a ‘who am I going to trust to kind of raise my daughter and help her grow during her college career’?”

Jadyn Nielsen batted .430 as a freshman, had an on base percentage of .534 and was on the HMG-Community News All-Area Second Team as a shortstop. The next season, she appeared in five games before the season was cut short due to COVID-19 but still batted .400 with an OBP of .470. She won’t be alone on the islands as, according to her dad, probably has more resources and connections with family, friends, mentors that would look out for her than any other college in the nation. Jon Nielsen’s nephew and former Gahr High standout, Corey Nielsen, was briefly a quarterback for the Rainbow Warriors. In fact, when Corey Nielsen was playing there, some of the broadcasters in Honolulu were predicting to Jon Nielsen that his daughter would one day play for the university.

“It’s far away, but it’s not far away,” Jon Nielsen said. “She can’t come home every weekend, but if something were to happen out there, we have resources; family, friends that would be able to take care of things.”

Jon Nielsen added that he and Jadyn purposely went to all different parts of the country to make sure that if she was going to choose Hawai’i, she wasn’t going to sit there and wonder why she didn’t go somewhere else.

Despite all the elite camps and showcases Jadyn Nielsen has gone to, the last time college coaches got to see her was last fall because COVID-19 put a halt to most of her sophomore season at Cerritos and her travel team that her dad coaches, the 16-U Athletics-Nielsen. Since then, Jadyn Nielsen has been sending workout videos and doing different things during the summer.

Half of the girls on the Athletics team hails from Hawai’i and with stricter regulations out there, the team hasn’t been able to play anywhere. Since the NCAA couldn’t recruit during the summer because of the pandemic, everyone was waiting for Sept. 1 to come. That was the date in which high school athletes could have contact with NCAA Division I coaches. Then on Oct. 1, which was the first date that athletes could verbally commit, Southern University was the first school to reach out to Jadyn Nielsen via text message. That came at 12:01 a.m. and a minute later, Oklahoma State University sent her a text message. Coolen waited until 9:00 a.m. before reaching out to her. In fact, Jadyn Nielsen was the first junior that Coolen had reached out to.

“When Sept. 1 came, everybody that I thought would kind of reach out, reached out,” Jon Nielsen said. “We kind of put a list together for the schools that contacted her and a lot of other schools kind of came into the mix as well. Everything always came back to Hawai’i.

“It’s nice to be recruited by people,” he later said. “But when people make you a priority, that says a lot about a program and what kind of faith they have in you as a student-athlete. I think a lot of that held weight with us as parents and her as an athlete when you’re the university’s first call, first offer.”

Jadyn Nielsen becomes the third Cerritos player in recent history to pursue their talents at the University of Hawai’i, Manoa. Former Cerritos stars Heather Cameron and Jennifer Iseri, both 2015 graduates, played for the Rainbow Wahine from 2016-2019.


Former Cerritos and Gahr High Football Coach Jon Nielsen Now Managing Travel Softball Team (Opens in a new browser tab)