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Jennie Finch, University of Arizona

Jennie Finch came to Arizona as a promising athlete -- very promising, really. She left having accomplished everything expected and more.

Finch won 60 straight games -- Finch went 32-0 in one season -- to set an NCAA record. She won a national championship in 2001 for head coach Mike Candrea's squad. Numbers show she was one of the best pitchers in college softball of all time. 

Her college career, though, didn't show how powerful she'd become beyond sport. All of the statistics -- later, pitcher Alicia Hollowell would surpass Finch in some all-time statistics -- are meaningless. They're only an excuse for Finch to build up her fame and then use that fame to take action in communities not only in the United States, but across the globe.

What made Jennie Finch the face of softball, which has since ballooned in popularity in the United States meanwhile becoming an international sport? How she's taken advantage of the fame of her image as a professional athlete and used it to make a difference off the field.

Finch's love for the game transcended greatness, and it was her spirit that perhaps parallels what Michael Jordan and the Dream Team did for international basketball more than a decade before Finch went pro. 

She's used that fame -- the Sports Illustrated covers and all -- to do good for the world, too. Finch is a adviser for the 'nPlay Foundation, a group inspired to put an end to childhood obesity. She's a proponent of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and sends needy children backpacks through the Project HOTSHOTS organization.

Charity softball events have been a staple of Finch's career, one that really can't be described as being finished with despite her retirement from softball over a year ago. In September, Finch even ran the New York marathon and started in last place. Timex donated $1 to New York Road Runners youth programs for each runner than the 31-year-old softball pitcher passed on the course.

Finch has meant a great deal for women, as well. She wrote a book, aptly titled "Throw Like a Girl: How to Dream Big and Believe in Yourself" and is an icon among young female athletes. Saying "no" to appearance requests from magazines like Playboy and Maxim also said something about Finch.

Clearly, it's not about the fame.

It's about how she uses that fame to make a difference.


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