Few female athletes have made an impact in mainstream America like Jennie Finch. The former University of Arizona and Team USA standout is one of the greatest pitchers the game of softball has ever seen. Finch combined her talents on the field with her considerable charisma to become a fan favorite from coast to coast.
Finch, who is married to Casey Daigle, a former Major League Baseball pitcher, retired from softball to focus on raising her sons (Ace and Diesel). The Big Lead recently caught up with Finch, who is now a member of the Advisory Board for the Capital One Cup, which recognizes the best NCAA Division I men’s and women’s athletics programs with the Capital One Cup trophy and a combined $400,000 in scholarship money for student athletes [updated standings available at www.capitalonecup.com].
The Big Lead: You’ve been out of the spotlight recently. Want to catch our readers up on what you’ve been doing? How are the kids?
Jennie Finch: They’re absolutely wonderful. Ace just turned six and Diesel turns one soon. And my oldest just started playing tee ball. I’ve been keeping active myself. Last fall I ran the New York City marathon for the New York Road Runners, raising a dollar for each runner I passed along the way. We raised $30,000.
TBL: Was that a one-and-done deal with marathons? What’s your next athletic conquest?
JF: I haven’t decided yet. I’ve been thinking about running a triathlon, but that’s not set in stone.
TBL: It’s the 40th anniversary of Title IX. As one of the most successful female student athletes of the past 40 years, can you share your thoughts on what Title IX means to you?
JF: If it wasn’t for Title IX, I would not have had the opportunities I’ve had. I wouldn’t have had the platform I’ve had and wouldn’t have had my college tuition paid. Without it, I probably would have played for a small local college and that’s it. But thanks to Title IX, I’ve had so many opportunities. It’s amazing to think, here we are 40 years later, and we have such a distinguished award like the Capital One Cup which shines a bright spotlight on achievements in women’s college athletics.
I grew up admiring the first generation of female athletic stars who had the opportunity to play because of Title IX. I admired women like Lisa Fernandez, Mia Hamm and Lisa Leslie [also a Capital One Cup Advisory Board member]. I think the greatest thing about what I do is the opportunity to inspire others. I take my responsibility as a role model seriously.
I think the biggest challenge going forward is educating the youth on how far we’ve come and how we can’t take anything for granted.
TBL: It’s an Olympic year. You won a gold medal with Team USA in 2004 and silver in 2008. When the International Olympic Committee announced it was dropping softball and baseball, you were vocal in your opinion that it was a mistake. How are things coming in the fight to restore the sport?
JF: The status is the same. [The International Softball Federation] is voting in August on whether to go solo or whether to join in with baseball to bid together [to restore the sports as Olympic sports]. In the meantime, we just need to keep exposing our sport, keep it out there, and get more people to see it.
TBL: Any advice for Team USA athletes going to London?
JF: Enjoy it. It’s such a magical experience. Take advantage of the time there, write a journal, do whatever you can to savor the experience. It will be one of the greatest moments of your life.
TBL: As we speak, you’re at the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City as a member of the Capital One Cup Advisory Board. Two questions: What attracted you to the Capital One Cup, and talk about this year’s Women’s College World Series?
JF: Things are going great, It’s been great getting out and talking to the fans. I’m honored to be a part of the advisory board. The Capital One Cup not only honors athletic performance it also promotes sports that don’t always get the limelight. And it’s not just a trophy…it’s $400,000 in scholarships for student athletes, so the Cup rewards classroom work as well.
As for the World Series, Cal looked great this year [as the No. 1 seed], but the great thing about the World Series format is that even when you have a team that’s as good as Cal, any of a number of teams can take it. So I can’t point to one team and say they’re going to win it. [Editor’s Note: No. 2 seed Alabama defeated No. 4 seed Oklahoma to win the Women’s College World Series and claim 60 points in the Capital One Cup standings.]