Since 2016, Jennie Finch and her team of Olympians have partnered with Big Vision Foundation in Pennsylvania to host a softball camp for girls ages seven and above. As the popularity has grown, so has the number of girls who travel from all over the country and from Mexico!
The staff includes fellow Olympians Leah Amico, Crystl Bustos, and Toni Mascarenas. Throughout the weekend, campers are split into groups depending on their age and earn valuable techniques like hitting from Bustos, infielding with Mascarenas, outfielding with Amico, and pitching with Finch and her father.
Before she became an Olympian, Finch went 32–0 as a junior pitcher at the University of Arizona in 2001 and helped the Wildcats to the national championship that year. She then won Olympic gold in 2004 and silver in ’08. Finch, who travels the country speaking and holding softball clinics, is an inspiration to all girls who play the game.
As a young girl, Finch’s childhood hero was Lisa Fernandez. Now Finch is inspiring the next generation of other young girls! She shared that she stood in Amico’s autograph line after the 1996 Olympics, and then eight years later, Finch actually played with her on the 2004 Olympic team.
When asked what her favorite memories from playing on the Olympic team was, Finch said, “just [being] able to share a dugout with them and learn from my teammates and grow that bond. Roommates with Crystl Bustos, traveling the world, meeting new people—[and] just learning about different cultures was an amazing gift.”
Finch, who has three kids of her own with her husband, Casey Daigle, knows softball is not a sport where you can just practice every once in a while and be a star at it. You have to be dedicated. “I think there are so many life lessons in softball that you don’t even realize that you are learning,” said Finch. “Dealing with failure, teamwork, discipline, sacrifice. I think just realizing how physically we can do anything if our mind allows us to, and how strong our mind is, and how much of an impact our mind and the mental side of everything pours into every aspect of our life.”
Throughout the clinic, Finch both coached and mentored kids. She said she loved the challenge of softball and how she always wanted to be better. She is hoping to encourage more girls to come out and play softball, as she is advocating for softball to continue to be an Olympic sport after its reintroduction in 2020!