Jennie Finch DaigleAthlete
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Jennie Finch Daigle was born on September 3, 1980, in La Mirada, CA and grew up in a close-knit family. She was excited when just after her fifth birthday, her parents signed her up for her first t-ball league. She couldn't wait to play just like her brothers, but this was even cooler because girls were doing it. Her love for the game and competitive nature was evident from the start, as was her natural athletic ability. She had great hand-eye coordination, and she was bigger and faster than most of her teammates. She also had a cannon for an arm. Jennie started pitching at age eight, with her father as her personal coach. By the time Jennie was nine, she was playing for a 10-and-under traveling all-star team. At age 12, she led the California Cruisers to the 12-and-under American Softball Association national title in Chattanooga, TN. In 1995, Jennie's ASA team captured the 14-and-under crown.
In 2004 at the Olympics in Athens, the team dominated their competitors and won the gold. Sports Illustrated hailed them as the greatest team of all time. Jennie returned home from Athens, and her popularity soared. Endorsement deals from major brands including Sprint, Bank of America and Mizuno followed and allowed Jennie to continue to play. She created a signature line with Mizuno that featured a bat, batting gloves, shoes and mitt with her name on them, and together with Mizuno, pioneered the use of pink in women's softball equipment. Pink and black became her signature.
In early 2005, Jennie and her boyfriend, former Major League baseball pitcher Casey Daigle, were married. She continued to play softball for the USA National Team and for the Chicago Bandits, a National Pro Fastpitch team. The following year, in May of 2006, a mere six weeks before competing on the international stage, Jennie and Casey had their first baby, a little boy appropriately named Ace. Through it all Jennie kept training and pitching.
In 2008, in the lead up to the Olympics in Beijing, the U.S. embarked on the Bound 4 Beijing Tour -- 46 stops over several months. It was a bittersweet time for teammates who had played together so long, knowing that a decision was pending with the International Olympic Committee about whether or not the sport they loved would continue as part of the Olympics past Beijing. Jennie and her teammates took every opportunity to lobby the public and powers-that-be for support. But the long road ultimately ended up with a heartbreaking loss, first in the Olympics to Japan in the final game, and then with the vote to eliminate softball from future Olympics.
Following the Olympics, Jennie quickly regrouped and looked toward the future. She continues to act as ambassador for both the game of softball and for female athletes in general. She conducts camps across the country and has her very own softball academy, Diamond Nation in Flemington, NJ, giving girls opportunities to learn and grow.