HARRISONBURG, Va., Sept. 12, 2013 – Last weekend, the James Madison softball team played host to a softball camp presented by Olympian Jennie Finch. The two-day camp brought in over 400 campers and 1,800 spectators to Veterans Memorial Park.
Campers game to JMU from 11 states and the District of Columbia. The furthest distance traveled to participate in the camp was 1,396 miles from Austin, Texas. Campers also traveled from Indiana, Ohio, New York and Tennessee to attend.
The weekend also featured a Champions Dinner on Saturday where attendees had an opportunity to meet on a more personal level with each of the camp instructors. In addition to Finch, the instructors included Andrea Duran, Leah O;Brien-Amico, Mackenzie Vandergeest, Toni Mascarenas and Ashley Carlson all members of the USA Softball team.
While at the camp, Finch raved about JMU facilities, telling the local media it was, “on par or better or better than a lot of the places she played at in the then Pac-10 conference.
For each of their community activities, the softball coaches have one member of the team compose a testimonial to describe the experience. Here are thoughts from junior Heather Kiefer:
This past weekend, my team and I had the opportunity to help out with the Jennie Finch Softball Camp that was hosted at JMU. Not only did we get to work alongside Jennie Finch, but also Andrea Duran, Leah O’Brien-Amico, Mackenzie Vandergeest, Toni Mascarenas, and Ashley Carlson. When we arrived on Saturday morning, we were all assigned to different stations to work for the two-day camp. Each station had either a former Olympian or professional player and a few JMU softball players working with the campers. Having the opportunity to not only listen to the Olympians and professional players, but work with the kids at the same time was an amazing experience. The staff brought so much enthusiasm with them, it was contagious.
On Saturday, the camp consisted of seven rotations with four in the morning and three after lunch. During lunch, Jennie did a pitching demonstration on our field and talked about some of her experiences. On Saturday night, the camp put on a dinner and silent auction that Jennie and her staff spoke at. It was really cool to listen to their question and answer session. What I love about this sport is that no matter how far you have come and what level you play at, there is always something new to learn.
On Sunday, we had seven more rotations where my teammates and I worked at the same stations and with the same coaches as we did on Saturday. During the lunch break, the entire staff did a hitting demonstration on our field with a stadium packed beyond capacity!
This community service event not only benefited the children at the camp, but also the entire JMU and Harrisonburg communities. Jennie Finch is a softball icon who has done innumerable things for the game. People were talking about the camp all over campus on Monday, and it even received publicity from both campus and local newspapers. It was an incredible experience in many ways to get to work with the entire coaching staff at the camp. The cool thing about the camp is that my team and I ended up learning just as much, if not more, than the campers! I personally walked away from the camp inspired by Jennie’s love of the game.
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