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Jennie Finch Interview: Softball All-Time Great Talks About the Game

Chris Eggemeyer@@chriseggemeyerCorrespondent IOctober 26, 2010

BEIJING - AUGUST 16:  Jennie Finch of the United States pitches against Chinese Taipei during their softball game at Fengtai Softball Field on Day 8 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 16, 2008 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Softball is a sport that a good amount of people know little or nothing about. Well, Jennie Finch, former college all star and National Professional Fastpitch softball player, is out to change that.

The softball legend was nice enough, courtesy of Haas Avocados, to sit down for a short phone interview last Friday, where we discussed everything from her college career to her love from Avocados.

Tell me some more about the Avocado League

The Avocado League is formed by Mexican Haas Avocados, and I am the Commissioner of the League, and this is my second year being involved as the commissioner.

There is a group of eight women from all over the country that have submitted their favorite avocado recipes, and then you can go online to TheAmazingAvocado.com/BigHit and vote for your favorite recipe. They are giving away a prize for the winner, and then you can also enroll in it to get gift cards.

We're trying to just urge people to add avocado into their diet. It's healthy and full of vitamins and minerals.

Most people, when they think of avocados, think of guacamole and that's it, but there are actually some fabulous recipes online, and it's pretty neat, especially around the baseball playoffs, that each area has its own recipe that's unique to them, like New York is avocado on pizza and in Maryland there's the crab sandwich with avocado on it.

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How did get involved with the Avocado League?

I was approached by them, and I'm an avid avocado myself, and being a mom I'm always looking for new ways to add vitamins to my son's and my family's diet, and it seemed like a great fit. I'm kind of a foodie, I love to eat.

Do you have a particular favorite recipe at this point?

I do, my favorite would be the grapefruit and avocado salad.

Your list of college achievements goes on and on: Two time Player of the Year, three time All-American, the 32-0 season which was capped with a National Championship, was your college career just as surreal of an experience as it seems?

You know, looking back, it does seem so surreal. I think, when I was headed to Arizona, knowing the tradition of Arizona softball, I thought that I would walk away with two, maybe three, maybe four National Championships, knowing the strength of the program.

Then you get there and you realize that it's a lot tougher than you think, that putting on an Arizona uniform is not going to do it.

I definitely do cherish that one National Championship that we had, though, and it was an incredible four years, some of the best four years of my life, being a Wildcat, and playing at a high level, and living your dreams out on the playing field, and getting the opportunity to also get your education.

How was it playing for Team USA in the 2004 Olympics?

Definitely a dream come true. Growing up I watched softball and USA softball, and that was my goal of being able to represent my country and wear the red, white, and blue out there, and I think it is one of the highest honors to be able to go out there and compete for your country, and it was something so very special, and it was everything I dreamt of and more.

After the 2004 Olympics, you went on (in 2005) to play in the National Professional Fastpitch Softball League. How was that compared to playing in college?

Actually, it's quite similar to college. Obviously you don't have the school, but it's a dream come true to be a professional athlete, to say that I play softball for a living.

Obviously we are not making salaries that are livable, but it's getting there. It was the first time to see a league truly established and go and succeed and I look forward to the future of that and helping to provide more opportunity with that.

It must have been a tough decision then to hang up the cleats, right?

It was, definitely. I've been playing the game since I was five years old, so my whole life has sort of revolved around the sport, and I've been playing competitively in the sport. I'm only a few months out of it, so right now it still feels like off season to me, but obviously I won't be going back next year.

It just felt like it was time for me to expand my family and it's been kind of wild, not only with me, but with my husband playing, and with a four year old son, and so it was getting more difficult to travel and make those international trips and that, but I look forward to being even more involved than when you are playing and training.

I look forward to new opportunities, some that have already arrived, some hopefully to come as far as the Pro Fastpitch League and with USA softball, and helping to promote this sport not just in the US, but worldwide, just helping promote young women and fitness and health and going after their dreams and having the opportunity and hopefully continuing to break down those barriers and provide more for the future.

Speaking of that, I know you've been outspoken about it, so I'd like to hear right from you your thoughts about the future of Softball as an Olympic sport and the push to bring it back.

We definitely have an uphill battle, and we have our work cut out for us, but our sport is thriving, and I believe that it will prevail in the end, and it's important to get the message out there that there is still USA softball and we still have World Championships every four years.

It's the only event in which the world competes, and that was part of me continuing on playing after 2008, proving to the International Olympic Committee that you can't take away dreams and that there is still USA softball.

Time Magazine has called you the most famous softball player in history. I've seen you referred to as the Michael Jordan of softball. How proud are you, knowing how much you have done not just for yourself, but for the sport and for everyone involved with it?

I feel truly blessed that I've been able to experience what I have and to have the platforms that I've been able to have to help grow the sport. It's a tribute to the women before me and the men who have supported women in sports and who have supported softball, and I hope to continue to help provide more opportunity for young girls out there whether it be in the business world or in the sports world.

Having done all this before the age of 30, do you ever have to pinch yourself to make sure you're not dreaming?

Definitely. It’s been kind of a whirlwind and I’ve been quite busy, so it’s kind of been just one thing to the next, but I never want to stop competing, whether it be in my family life or in my professional life.

There’s still work to be done, and there’s still more positive impact that needs to be made in this country and around the world, and I look forward to the next challenge and the future of hopefully doing more.

But really, there truly are moments where I think, “How did I end up here?” or “Is this really real” or “Did that just happen?” or “Did I just meet him?” It’s been way more than I possibly could have ever imagined.

Now that we’ve made it to the end of the road for the World Series, do you have any predictions?

I would love the Rangers to take it all. My husband plays for that team, and we have a lot of friends on that team, and having played for his AAA team, which is run by Nolan Ryan’s two sons, it’s a great family and we’re excited about the future.

Considering that you went to Arizona, I’m sure you’re keeping tabs on how well the Arizona football team is doing so far this season. What are your thoughts on them and the PAC-10 as a whole?

It’s exciting, it’s very exciting for University of Arizona football, for the coaches, the staff and the whole university itself. We’ve waited a long time for some great football, and now I’m excited to see the direction Coach Stoops does for this team and for this community, kind of reviving U of A football.

I noticed you were on Celebrity Apprentice back in 2008, and I have to ask: Was Donald Trump really as scary as he seems?

He’s intense. I wouldn’t use the word scary with him, but he’s definitely intense. He brings his A game and that’s what you expect from him.

It’s quite a delight to see the professionalism that he brought and he expected you to give your best and he was definitely giving his best, you could tell he was ready and prepared, everything you’d expect a professional businessman to be, and it was nice to know he had a love for sports.

It was a great atmosphere to be in and I got to meet some incredible people and have made some great relationships from that

I would like to thank both Bleacher Report and Jennie Finch herself for this opportunity. I'd like to direct everyone to Finch's website (http://jenniefinch.com/), where you can find more information on this wonderful, wonderful person and all of the great things she is doing.

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