Jennie Finch inspires female student-athletes at CWA Luncheon

The list of accolades and championships on Jennie Finch’s resume could make almost any college athlete feel unaccomplished.

Provided Former University of Arizona and Team USA softball standout Jennie Finch signs an autograph after speaking at the CWA Luncheon on Monday.

The first-team All-American honors — all three of them. The College World Series title. The Olympic gold medal, and — eh — the silver one, too.

But Finch, now a 33-year-old mother of three, has harnessed her legacy as possibly the greatest collegiate softball pitcher of all time, tapping her reputation as a source of inspiration.

She spoke Monday afternoon at Binghamton University’s Celebrating Women’s Athletics Luncheon, an annual affair held at the Events Center to recognize the achievements of the school’s female student-athletes and bolster scholarship funds.

“My message is to be the best you. Life’s short. Make the most of the opportunities that you have,” Finch told media before addressing the crowd of more than 500 guests. “It’s amazing to see how far we have come as women, in sports especially. Just seeing the changes that it has allowed me to make and just knowing the impact athletics plays, especially in our young women’s lives, is so important.”

Finch flew into Binghamton on Sunday night and spent Monday morning with the University’s Division I softball team, which opens its season on Feb. 14 at a tournament hosted by South Florida. The Bearcats will face four power conference programs that weekend.

“We got to just talk about the game doesn’t know rankings, the game doesn’t know the name on the jersey on the front,” Finch said. “Just go out there and believe in yourselves and have fun. Make the most of it.”

Softball senior second baseman Jessica Bump described meeting Finch as an unforgettable experience.

“Her advice about preparation and mentality are things that we as a team are going to think about while working to achieve our goals this season,” Bump wrote in a Facebook message. “I think after today we are even more excited to step out onto the field and play Bearcats softball.”

Finch addressed more than just the softball team at the reception, when she spoke of the growth and achievements of women in sports.

“It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come as women,” Finch said, “and because of 1972 (when Title IX was enacted), we have a chance to live out our dreams, further our education, further society and inspire others to be better.”

Volleyball senior co-captain Grace Vickers represented BU’s female student-athletes at the podium, expressing her gratitude for Title IX and the opportunities she sought at BU.

Since the first annual CWA Luncheon, the event has raised nearly $150,000 toward a scholarship fund, awarded to two female BU student-athletes each year.

For Finch, helping the cause by speaking at events like the CWA Luncheon is an opportunity to give back.

“Now I’m a mother of three and speaking, doing camps and clinics and traveling around,” Finch said. “Being a mom is my ultimate favorite thing of all, but it’s always great to be around athletics because it’s who I am and has given me so much.”