Softball catcher is a Rising Star

Jordyn Villanueva is the daughter of GPD Detective Luis Villanueva

Courtesy photo A GAME CHANGER—Jordyn Villanueva played on the 19 and under Mexico Junior National Team and had the opportunity to represent Mexico last summer in Mexico City. She also played and helped her team win the silver medal in the Pan American Games last year in Lima, Peru, and Cali, Colombia

Many fi ve-year-olds dream of one day being astronauts, firefighters, police officers or professional athletes, while very few ever follow through on those big dreams. However, Jordyn Villanueva is an exception. Ever since the age of 5 she has been in love with playing sports. She played basketball and soccer, but found that her true passion was for softball and now at the age of 18, Villanueva has amassed quite a career for herself. So much so that this fall she will be attending BethuneCookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla. on a full softball scholarship. While a student at Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, Calif., Villanueva was a standout player who not only played for her high school team, but also played on the 19U Mexico Junior National Team and had the opportunity to represent Mexico last summer in Mexico City. She also played and helped her team win the silver medal in the Pan American Games last year in Lima, Peru, and Cali, Colombia. Although Villanueva has lots of experience playing other sports such as basketball, volleyball, and soccer, she said softball was definitely the more difficult sport, especially in her position as catcher. “As a catcher you have to be fully involved in the game like every single thing that happens whether it be outs or what the call was, what the count is behind the plate, what the score is, what inning it is, all those things you have to know on top of making sure your pitch calling is right, your pitcher is okay, your defense is okay,” Villanueva said. “There are a lot of responsibilities you have [as a catcher].” Once she arrives at BethuneCookman University, Villanueva plans to study Business Administration with goal of one day opening her own softball training facility where she can help aspiring athletes improve in the sport of softball. She also has plans to continue her athletic success at the collegiate level thanks BethuneCookman’s Softball Head Coach Laura Watten, who has already sent Villanueva a summer conditioning regimen to get her ready for the fall schedule. In addition to one day helping new players reach their athletic goals, Villanueva is currently working toward another goal of her own: to take her skills and athletic abilities to the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, where she hopes to play for Team Mexico. If Villanueva’s name seems familiar, that is because she is the daughter of Gardena Police Detective Luis Villanueva, who has been very supportive of his daughter’s softball career and aspirations. “He has always provided me with everything and more.” Jordyn Villanueva said. “He would often work overtime at the department just to be able to help me with all my expenses.” Villanueva’s dad couldn’t be more proud of his daughter who followed in the footsteps of her sister Alexiz who played soccer and her sister Priscilla who coached softball. She also followed in the footsteps of her father in an important area outside of sports. “She doesn’t complain and doesn’t boast about anything,” Luis Villanueva said. “She is very humble. She’s like me, we don’t need a pat on the back for everything that we accomplish. We just do it and go forward. That’s the kind of girl that she is and that’s why I’m so proud of her.” Detective Villanueva knows of what he speaks considering that he is in charge his department’s annual Christmas program that helps needy families to experience a bit of yuletide cheer during the holidays. It’s something that he does every year and for which he never expects anything in return. In fact, Jordyn has modeled her father’s example by getting together with her sisters every year to bring holiday cheer to those in need. It’s this humility and willingness to do what needs to be done that has propelled her to such a high level of success at such a young age. Humility is such a part of Jordyn’s DNA that where other prospects would be tooting their own horn and shouting from the rooftops about how great they are to any college that would listen. Coaches at BethuneCookman, however, discovered Villanueva by watching her livestreams from her games in Colombia and Peru and found her so impressive that they made her the offer to come play for them as the potential starting catcher. Detective Villanueva said that although it will be tough to see one of his daughters head off to college 2,700 miles away, he is heartened in the knowledge that he taught her solid values of humility, hard work, and doing what’s right—qualities that will serve her well as she begins her academic and athletic journey. “She’s got good intentions and knows what she wants to do and now that it’s transcended into college and getting a scholarship to Bethune-Cookman and then getting the scholarship from the Police Foundation (Jordyn was among the 2022 GPF recipients of more than $4,000 to cover four years of university study), it’s really encouraged her to continue going.”

Courtesy photo
TEAM SILVER—Jordyn Villanueva, front row second from right, was a member of the 19U Mexico Junior
National softball team. Last summer the team win a silver medal in the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. Villanueva is heading to Bethune-Cookman University where she will be a scholarship athlete.