JMU roundup: Former Olympic softball standout Finch returns for area camp

Daily Staff Reports – sports@nvdaily.com

HARRISONBURG — This weekend, the James Madison University softball team welcomes Jennie Finch to the area as the former Olympic gold medalist will host her Jennie Finch Softball Camp this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 6-7, at the Bridgewater Community Little League Park.

The camp runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

This is the second straight year Finch will bring her camp to the Harrisonburg area and work with JMU head coach Mickey Dean and the JMU softball team.

Finch and Dean have history on the diamond as she played for him in the National Pro Fastpitch League with the Chicago Bandits. She also previously held her camp in Virginia when Dean was head coach at Radford.

Last year’s event was a huge success, bringing more than 400 campers and 1,800 spectators to her camp, which was held at Veteran’s Memorial Park.

Finch won’t be coming alone as she will be joined by five professional softball players with ties to the United States national team in Crystl Bustos, Leah Amico, Andrea Duran, Toni Mascarenas, and Jenna Rhodes. The Dukes will also be on hand to assist Finch with the campers.

There will also be a Champions Dinner Saturday night from 6 to 10 p.m. at the James Madison Memorial Hall Gymnasium in Harrisonburg. The cost for that event is $30 and fans can register online at mickeydeancamps.com through Thursday. The $30 includes dinner, a silent auction and Finch will speak and answer questions during the event.

Finch played at the University of Arizona from 1998 until 2002 where she was a three-time All-American and a two-time winner of the Honda Sports Award given to the nation’s top player. She set an NCAA record with 60 consecutive victories, which spanned nearly two seasons. Three of those wins came at the 2001 Women’s College World Series where she was named the Most Outstanding Player after leading the Wildcats to the national crown.

Following her collegiate career, she was a member of the USA National Team, winning the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athlens and taking silver in Beijing in 2008.

Women’s field hockey

James Madison field hockey will offer the Purple Pups program starting on Sept. 16. The seven-week program is designed to teach the foundations of field hockey and teamwork to children ages 4-11 (pre-K- 5th grade).

The Purple Pups program fee is $60 with all sessions held at the JMU Field Hockey Complex across from the Rose Library on Tuesdays beginning Sept. 16 through Oct. 28.

Boys and girls enrolled in the Purple Pups program will receive a field hockey stick and ball to keep. Throughout the seven weeks, children will interact with JMU field hockey players and staff, learn the basics of the sport and partake in a scrimmage at the end of each practice.

For more information or questions about the Purple Pups program, please contact Bronwen Gainsford at gainsfbx@jmu.edu.