ROSWELL, GA–Former professional softball pitcher and Olympic gold medalist Jennie Finch was in town this weekend to host her softball camp in nearby Roswell.
Finch is often noted for being the most recognizable and dominating softball pitcher of her era. In addition to being a gold and silver Olympic medalist, Finch was a three-time All-American at the University of Arizona, two-time recipient of the Honda Sports Award (awarded to the best female collegiate athlete in a particular sport), and she threw two perfect games as a pro while playing for the Chicago Bandits.
Others may also know her from the Jennie Challenge, which was featured on This Week in Baseball. In the challenge, major league players would attempt to hit one of Finch’s pitches. Most of them failed.
The Jennie Finch Softball Camp is designed to build not only softball skills, but character also. While the sport is growing and softball continues to get more television coverage, it is also an important time for the sport, as they face the IOC vote in September to decide whether or not softball will be added back to the summer games in 2018.
I had an opportunity to chat with Finch at her camp to discuss some of these topics.
Could you tell us a little bit about the Jennie Finch Softball Camp?
It’s about sharing our passion and love for the game, getting back on the field with these young athletes. I was once in their shoes, dreaming of ring an Olympian, playing at that next level and getting a college scholarship. This is where we share not only the fundamentals of the game, but most importantly those life lessons that transcend way beyond any playing field.
The IOC’s decision will be made in September on whether or not to add the sport back to the summer games in 2018. What do you think has to be done to get the IOC approval?
PlayBall 2020 is the campaign to ring it back and we’re working hard we joined forces with Baseball Now, and it’s going to be here before we know it in September’s the vote, and we’re down to three, the big hurdle was getting into that three and now it’s to get back in so our fingers are crossed we’re hoping to continue to spread the word about the campaign Playball 2020 on Twitter and Facebook which is a great way people can show their support as well.
Where do you think the sport of softball is as of now?
It’s incredible to see how much our game has grown, not only in our country but in the world there’s over 140 countries that play softball. This year we had the most college games ever on TV, so that’s huge plus and highlight to show that it’s not just ESPN showing the games but people are watching because they’re willing to put more and more games on TV. So it’s exciting to see where we’re at and the future of it, and we always say the first goal is that college education and n there’s a professional league, they’re four teams in the national pro fast-pitch league hopefully we continue the growth of that and sustainability and just continuing to grow and hopefully make dreams come true.
You recently completed a triathlon. Could you tell us about that?
Aquaphor approached me about being the brand ambassador for the Aquaphor New York City Triathlon and I thought it was a good goal, I just had my third baby, and it’s a great way to get back in shape, she’s six months old. I ‘ve never been on a bike, I’ve never swam other than Marco Polo in a pool, so it was a good challenge, I did the New York City Marathon a couple years ago so it was fun to tap into a new sport and try something new. It was awesome. I met my goal of under three hours. It was Olympic distance so it was pretty intense but a lot of fun.
The Jennie Challenge (Where MLB players attempt to hit a pitch from Finch) is something that many people find very interesting. How cool was it to strike out all of those guys?
It was so much fun to showcase our sport and showcase what we do, and have Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds stand there like “that’s a Randy Johnson slider” and saying “they really do throw hard” I think it’s one thing to watch it but when you really get in the batter’s box and you can see it move and break it was cool. I think it was just a great way to showcase what we do and a great opportunity to spread the word of softball and get out on the field with other major leaguers.