Thursday, October 31, 2013
For the second year, former Olympian Jennie Finch brought her softball camp to North Augusta.
Finch, a winner of a gold medal in 2004 and a silver in 2008, hosts camps all over the country to teach the fundamentals of softball to a new generation of players.
“This camp is about teaching the fundamentals and giving life lessons to these girls,” Finch said. “We want to encourage them on their journey, in their career and in their life.”
Finch has been hosting camps for eight years, and said that she came back to North Augusta because of how great the event was last year.
“I can’t speak on just how great the (North Augusta) Recreation Department is,” she said. “The staff is amazing, the facilities are absolutely out of this world. I hope the locals realize what they have here and take advantage of it. This is just absolutely beautiful and is a great place to bring our camp to.”
This year’s camp featured campers from more than 10 states, including one that stood out to Finch.
“We have a group from Minnesota,” Finch said. “The parents drove over 24 hours to bring them here, which was absolutely amazing to hear about.”
For the campers, Finch offered stories on why she took up softball, and how she became the competitor she is today.
“I started playing when I was 5-years old,” she said. “I wanted to be just like my brothers, who played baseball. Softball was way cooler then baseball, because it had a bigger ball and I played with girls. I never won anything until I played softball, because my brothers were bigger and stronger than me, but in softball, I finally started winning. I blame my brothers for turning me into this competitive crazy person I am now because they always beat me at everything. I loved winning, but I hated losing even more.”
Finch also gave the campers instruction on batting, fielding in the infield, fielding in the outfield and pitching.
“I hope the girls will be able to take what they learned at this camp and apply it to their own careers,” Finch said. “We’re trying to give them the tools to be the best players they can be. Hopefully, they will share the information they learn with others and put in the hard work they need to earn a scholarship or realize their dreams.”
The campers were able to learn from Finch and other Olympians, along with counselors from USC Aiken and Lander.
“We had a great group of camp counselors, they really worked well with the kids,” Finch said. “The girls at this camp have been so good and that’s the best thing about what we do.”
Brittney Williamson, a senior at USCA and a counselor at the Jennie Finch Softball Camp, enjoyed her time with the campers, and the experience of working with the Olympians.
“This camp was great, one of the best experiences of my softball career,” she said. “It was an honor to work with Jennie Finch, and the campers were really awesome. They seemed to enjoy all of the drills and took the coaching well.”
Another counselor, USCA Assistant Coach Erin Ward, said the highlight of the camp was “watching Jennie and the other Olympians help shape the future of our sport.”
As for Finch, she hopes to come back to North Augusta again.
“I’d love to come back to North Augusta next year and share my passion for the game,” she said. “This camp has been great for us.”
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for the North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.