Even arguably the best-ever player in her sport isn’t expecting to dramatically change the skill sets of a group of young players in one three-hour session.
But that’s not the purpose two-time Olympic pitcher Jennie Finch will be conducting a free softball clinic for girls ages 9-17 Saturday at the New Orleans MLB Youth Academy also known as the Wesley Barrow Stadium.
Instead, Finch will emphasize the intangible values that softball delivers.
“I want to inspire them to be encouraged to play the game because it’s more than just the game,” Finch said. “It’s about teamwork, leadership, discipline and all of those great skills that you gain through sports.
“By introducing some of these young ladies to the game and helping others advance with those skills hopefully it will help them on their journey.”
Finch also points out that softball doesn’t necessarily require being tall, fast or powerful to excel, although those traits certainly help the further one goes in her career.
“You may not fit into some other sport,” she said. “Speed and power are great to have, but it’s effort, dreams and the desire to play beyond your max that matters, too.”
And while softball, like baseball, struggles in most urban areas to boost participation, Finch said that should not be a deterrent for those who do desire to play.
“We’re always working on making softball more accessible,” she said. “It’s important that young ladies get the opportunity they deserve.”
Joining Finch at the clinic will be former LSU All-America outfielder Bailey Landry.
Landry, now a first-year teacher at St. Aloysius School of Baton Rouge, said that now she’s no longer on a team (Landry played for the now-defunct Scrap Yard Dawgs of the National Pro Fastpitch League last summer), she realizes how important that has been to her.
“There’s nothing better than being part of a team,” Landry, who prepped at East Ascension said. “When you’re in school, you’re with each other year-round you look forward to practice ever single day and the games are awesome.
“I really miss it.”
Landry added that while Finch’s playing career ended in 2010, before most of Saturday’s participants could have been aware of her accomplishments, they should appreciate the opportunity to hear from the person considered the most-famous softball player ever.
“I’ve gotten to do some clinics with Jenny, and she’s awesome,” Landry said. “She’s the kind of player I’ve tried to model myself after, both on the professional and personal level.
“The work she’s done for softball is astounding.”
Finch, who is married to former major league player Casey Daigle and has three children, stays involved in the game by running her own series of camps as well as the JF World Series, which is played in Sulphur.
But while softball becomes an Olympic sport again in 2020 after being dropped following the 2008 games on which she was a member of the silver-medal winning USA team, Finch, now 37, said she doesn’t plan a comeback.
“Those days are over for me,” she said. “I’m too busy being a mom and coaching.
“It’s great that softball will be in the Olympics again because it’s going to give grassroots programs a shot in the arm. The more young girls who see it played on that level, the more who will want to become involved.”