Olympic gold medalist Jennie Finch has been a role model for young girls for years, ever since she burst onto the scene as a star pitcher for the University of Arizona.
Now, a decade and a half later, Finch, MLB’s youth softball ambassador, is the namesake of a prestigious new award designed for young female athletes, MLB announced on Wednesday.
The Jennie Finch Empowerment Award presented by ARM & HAMMER will honor four young women every year who demonstrate powerful characteristics such as leadership, motivation, commitment, humility and integrity.
During an interview on MLB Network, Finch expressed appreciation toward MLB for its ongoing efforts to prioritize girls baseball and softball as part of their overall youth initiative.
“I want other young girls to have the opportunities I did -- and hopefully more -- and Major League Baseball and ARM & HAMMER are teaming up to do that,” Finch said during the interview. “These young girls are getting the opportunity to play, expanding diversity within the game, and just giving these young girls the opportunities to go after their dreams just like I did.”
The four winners will represent one of the following MLB softball-based events: Softball Breakthrough Series, Jennie Finch All-Star Classic, Elite Development Invitational and the RBI World Series. The winners will be selected by an MLB-led blue-ribbon panel, headlined by Finch.
Winners of the awards will receive a trip to the World Series and will be accompanied by Finch as they are recognized during an on-field pregame ceremony. ARM & HAMMER will also donate $20,000 ($5,000 on behalf of each of the four award winners) to the MLB Youth Foundation, which will directly benefit softball initiatives.
“Jennie Finch is a world-class athlete, but her real legacy is her character,” said Kim Ng, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball and softball development. “For the last two years, we have been blessed to have Jennie as part of our team as a youth softball ambassador. We have watched her inspire millions of young girls across the country, and we are extremely excited to partner with ARM & HAMMER to recognize young women who emulate Jennie’s character, both on and off the field.”
“We are thrilled to have created the Jennie Finch Empowerment Award, presented by ARM & HAMMER, through our continued partnership with Major League Baseball and Jennie,” said Britta Bomhard, Church & Dwight executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “Our vision for this award is to truly celebrate, support and champion youth softball development and the empowerment of young women.”
Finch has been a presence at many girls softball and baseball events over the past several years, providing encouragement to the participants through face-to-face conversations as well as in keynote speeches to larger groups.
Finch's message is consistent: Work hard, take chances and don’t be afraid to try something new.
“Find your gift, find your strengths,” Finch said during her Network interview. “We’re in a world of comparison -- looking at what people have and comparing what we don’t have. Instead, find your gift, your strength and then go be the best you can be. Don’t compare. Just be your best.”