August 5, 2008

Amazing Awaits!!

After a great off week we have finally arrived together as a team. We enjoyed some family time together, even took a trip to the zoo! Ace loved it. We try to visit the zoo in each city we visit. Casey and I always went as a couple and now its even more fun taking Ace. His favorite was the giraffes and elephants right now. I soaked up every minute I could in between work outs and preparing. It was a sad good bye, very difficult. I know he will be in the best hands and get lots of loving its just hard having your heart torn in half or completely. ;) My heart is with them but too with my teammates and the game we love. I'm so blessed to be able to do both but sadly this was the one trip Ace will not be going on! He will keep daddy company and cheer him on as the baseball season is coming to an end. The anxiety and build up of knowing I will be leaving is the hardest part. I know its for a short time and he wont remember but he still has my heart inside of him, and always will!!! I look forward to the rest of our lives together!!

Seeing my team helped me out. It's always great to be reunited with my team... they make it better! They are my rock getting through this!!!

Now its submarine time! Tunnel vision! One dream! One goal! Here we come!

We are in Beijing! We made it!
It was an easy flight filled with lots of emotions!!! We had a great few days in San Jose going to through processing. We were hooked up with tons of gear! Including our stylish opening ceremony gear!!! Ralph Lauren if our outfitter, we will be the best dressed for sure! Fun stuff! The excitement just keeps building. We processed with a few cyclists, track athletes, we saw the wrestlers come in as we were headed out. We are here on a mission, and we are fully aware of the journey ahead of us. Lots of blood, sweat, and tears... we are ready. Ready for battle.

The athlete village is beautiful! Huge!!! A little river running through it, lots of artwork, statues, and lots of green! There is even a pond with fish! My roomie is Bustos! Enjoying every minute, she is the best! We have practice today, looking forward to getting on the field! Its been fun seeing all the athletes and familiar faces. We are a family, the USA family! The dining hall is massive! Too much to choose from last night I had a raging salad full of veggies, and spinach and squash. We topped it off with some ice cream. Bustos hit up the Mc Donalds! I was so stoked to see the Mc Cafe in the village, yep all the free mochas you can drink! Along with Coke machines all over the village. Lots of Diet Coke, unlimited, just awesome! Look out! Lots of fun! Still figuring the ins and outs of it all. Its incredible. One World, One Dream is posted all over. So many colors, shapes, sizes, just incredible. Lots of flags proudly posted up!

Lots of love to my family, friends, and fans! Thank you for all your prayers, support, and love. I can not express my gratitude! Thank you! This is it! The Show!!! Let it begin!

Dreaming and Believing! Lots of love to all!
#27 Jennie Finch

August, 12, 2008
Game 1 down... 8 more to go!!!

Yesterday was great! We had a good practice and was able to meet up with my parents and bro and sis!!! It was so good to see them and just enjoy having them in my company. We indulged in Mc Donald's, I had my first shake here in China! Last night just rested up and got ready for today! We went to bed anxiously awaiting Game Day!!! I made Bustos put out her uni with me. We were all set ready to rock as she says!

Today we woke up with great excitement... game day! Finally!!! We played Venezuela and our offense exploded! 11-0. It was so awesome finally putting on our uniforms and competing. We have been waiting and preparing so long for this. Caitlin had an incredible day... even an inside the park homerun! Tasha and Bustos hit BOMBS! It was so fun to watch. Everyone was able to get our first game jitters out and just play ball. It was a fun win having so many contribute. It felt great getting the start and getting some innings in! Our offense took the pressure off leading us in the win. No time to celebrate... just 1 down. We are playing day to day looking no further than one game at a time. Now we are focused on Australia. I was able to see my parents, bro, and sis for a minute after the game! They were able to catch some Women's hoops last night and see them win! They are enjoying it all... its so fun to see so many supporters. There were lots of American flags and red, white, and blue in the stands. So many friends and family cheering us on. It gives me the chills just thinking about all of them who have given so much. We are so grateful for all our supporters and fellow Americans who came all this way to cheer us on! Thank you! Its so special to see American flags proudly draped, carried, and worn around the streets of China! Thank you!

Casey called after the game, bless his heart. Him and Ace stayed up to watch the game. Yes, Ace too... hes a late nighter. Its okay if its to watch mom or dad play! :) Casey said Ace was shouting Go mommy and U-S-A!!! So cute. I miss my Aces dearly!!! I'm so grateful for all their love and support. I'm so blessed. I love you both with my entire heart! Keep cheering!!! XOXO Thank you!!! Ace's aunts, my teammates were talking about him today. Asking me when he is going to start preschool and telling me how I have to get their approval before I make any decisions on his schooling. So cute! His Aunt's miss him along with his mommy! We love you.

Tonight we were able to sneak away to the salon in the village. We enjoyed some foot massages and I even added some highlights! Quite fun! The stylist hooked it up! It was a bit scary allowing him to work on my head with him speaking no English and myself no Chinese. It was an adventure and turned out to be a success! We were able to watch the Japan vs Australia game tonight, so we had to hurry back catch it. Japan came out on top 4-3, it was a close one. For dinner I had some fried rice, even some duck... it was quite tasty. Topped it off with a Iced Mocha, quite delish! :)

Well off to bed we go... getting ready.

Next up Australia tomorrow. One game at a time.
Thanks for all your love and support!!!

August 16, 2008

Another win! A great day! We had a tough day yesterday... we were exhausted! So it was great to come out with a big win against Chinese Taipei! Our offense again exploded, keeping us going! We are on our way still taking it one day at a time. We get to sleep in tomorrow! We are quite thrilled about that one. We play at 7 which is 7am eastern time. After the game we came back and just hung out. Relaxed. Ate and then ate some more. We started out at Mc Donald's which was quite good! Bustos, Nuvey, and I headed over to where our press officers Julie, Holly, and teammate Alicia Hollowell are all staying. They had an interview and I snuck away for a massage. We then ate again! This time it was grilled shrimp and scallops. Yummy! We then just hung out it was nice to get a change of scenery and just hang! Oh and by the way my new nickname for my roomie Boo or Boo Boo as Ace calls her is my PP! Ponytail Powerhouse! That's it! PP! Awesome! Through this blog you all are finding out what a dork I am! I'm a fun dork though!!!

Our cab ride back was a bit adventurous... our cab driver wanted to kick us out many times. He didn't want to take us to the athlete village. He thought he couldn't get in. We finally drove by a police officer that reassured him he could take us there, thank goodness! We made it eventually. The streets were super crowded, mostly locals enjoying the birds nest and the atmosphere, it was fun to see.

We are now heading off to bed, knowing we don't have to be up early! Exciting stuff! Women's soccer just arrived in the village. They have a big game on Monday, its the semi's. We will be cheering them on. Phelps is on track, and en fuego. He is a phenom, so incredible. Amazing things are happening here. Trying to keep those medals coming for the USA!

My parents had a blast at the track and field venue! They were stoked to catch Tyson Gay running live. They said it was packed and crazy over 80,000 people were there to see it. My brother said he was able to get some really cool pictures of the birds nest! They were headed to a Chinese Acrobat show tonight! They are really enjoying their trip, keeping busy, and having fun. They are getting around the city great. Cabs are really cheap here which is a bonus. The USA softball family is expanding taking in more new fans each day at the ball park. So very cool and fun! Our family is growing daily. My parents are introducing me to fans everyday that they befriend up in the stands. In such a big big world (one of Aces favorite cartoons!) there is so many connections that make it seem small. Quite refreshing and fun.

Casey and Ace had a good night cheer us on!!! They are still going strong. We are all going to need a couple weeks to recover after this is all over. I know you all back home especially, thank you! Its been fun getting messages through reporters from Casey. Casey has done some interviews this week and its been great getting messages from him through people at the field. I'm so grateful! I have the BEST support from my family! Love you!

Off to bed we are... no alarm tomorrow! :) I hope you all are having a fantastic day over in the states and all over the world. We play the Netherlands tomorrow. Another big one for us! One at a time!

Nite! Sweet dreams to all!

August 18, 2008
Day 12 and 13

Things have been going well... we are now finished up with pool play and on to the medal rounds! It all now begins! What is done is done and over. None of it counts! We played a great game against the Netherlands our offense was on fire! Monica was red hot on the mound too! It was weird playing a night game, fun under the lights! After the game we hurried back to get ready for our noon game against China today. We played great having a huge first inning scoring 9 runs. Kelly K with a 3 run bomb! Good stuff! That was it for pool play now the challenge is here. The crowd was great for China, a fun environment to play ball in. Cat started, pitched great and I finished up, it was good to get some more innings in! Casey said, Ace pointed to the TV and said, "Mommy no pitch, mommy no pitch!" Then looked at his grammy and said, "Mommy no pitch, mommy come home!" Ugh it made my heart melt! What troopers my family has been. There has been so many emotions over this year... I see the light! Hopefully when he saw me go in... it was my pass to be in China a few more days!

And the best is yet to come, the medal rounds have began!

I've been able to have such peace even though my heart is torn in half knowing Ace is being well taken care of and loved. I am blessed to have such support! It was so hard when we decided not to take him to China but its been a good decision! I can play at peace and give all my focus and attention to my teammates and this precious game I love! I too can not wait to see my little boys blond head, beautiful lips, adorable crystal blue eyes! I can not wait to squeeze him so tightly and just kiss his chin all over!!! I can not wait!!! I can not wait to hear his voice shouting mama and mommy and be able to care for his every need! Casey has been so great... I can't wait to be a wife. One that sees her husband more than not! :)

I know our job is not done although I can taste getting back to my family! The best is yet to come. We need to play the best softball we've ever played!

Tomorrow we have an off day! We've been going 7 days straight, it will be nice to somewhat relax and focus on the task at hand! We have a huge challenge before us and we are ready! We've prepared hard, we are one, ready for battle. We need to finish the job, one pitch, one out, one inning, one game at a time! I'm getting so fired up as I'm typing... its here. The moment we've been training our entire lives for! This is it!

Tonight, after the game we met up with our family it was good to see them, relax, and just visit! We went to the B of A Hometown Hopefuls Center and enjoyed the atmosphere and company of other athletes and their families! The facility is great, I'm so grateful for B of A to put this together for our families! Some of our teammates went to Women's Soccer, they are playing Japan! This win would put them in the gold medal game! Go Ladies, Go!

We are enjoying seeing all the medals continuing in, its amazing! So many dreams coming true! It truly is incredible. We are looking forward to getting back out on the field and letting it begin! It is here!

Love & gratitude to all!

Well as you can see its took me a while to face the computer and start reading and writing. First, I want to send out a heartfelt thanks from deep inside me to all our gracious and supportive fans! Thank you for all your unconditional love and support! We are so very blessed!

I'm with my family now!!! My heart is elated with joy to be reunited! Oh, if you would of seen me bawling all the way out of the airplane to them. Knowing my little and big guy were standing out there. I was a mess, I couldn't hold it together. It truly was the longest trip of my life getting home. I think I was race walking an Olympic Record in a bee line to the door! There he was, grinning from ear to ear running towards me with a bouquet of flowers bigger than him, in a shirt that said Mommy, with a heart around it. Awe, you could see his joy beaming outside of him to have me back. For five minutes I just held him, staring into his incredible blue eyes, and he just kept staring back in disbelief that I was actually home. He kept touching my face as I was melting! For myself I just continued to bawl like a 2 year old myself. I can not express how happy I was to be back and have my husband and son surrounding me! Knowing my next trips are a ways away and we are in our off season is a feeling we have looked forward to all year. Its what kept us going and able to go through this past year a part. Ace is talking so much more, reciting us like a little parrot. He is filling out, getting thicker and bigger. I'm still in awe and so incredibly happy to be home. As soon as I put him down he grabbed my hand and shouted, "Come on Mommy!" Its what I had been waiting to hear!

Its time to talk about the game, I will try to be brief as it still hurts. It's why we play the game, there is a chance involved. It wouldn't be any fun if there wasn't a chance to win or lose. Yes, we love it as you very well know and please don't take this the wrong way. Someone has to win and lose. It was Japan's day, we have to tip our hat to Team Japan and Ueno who had a performance of a lifetime over those last few days. Coach always says it does take a little luck to win championships and on any given day anyone can win. This is why we trained so hard and sacrificed so much we knew the difficulty. We are very proud of our team and who we are. We will always hold our heads up high and be very proud and honored to be able to have the opportunity to wear USA across our chests and because we are the people we are.

Leaving to the field I prayed, Lord let Your will be done. I have given all I have, my trust is in You, may Your will be done. This is win or lose, pitching, or not pitching, what ever color medal. I've been asked a lot why weren't you in there? My answer is it was Coach's decision and he made the best one he could. Yes, as a fierce competitor you always want the ball in your hands, I was dying to get in and was as ready as I could been to be in there. As a team player first, I will continue to back Coach and we as a pitching staff Cat and Monica. We have complete faith in one another and we will stand together as one.

Its hard, yes no doubt. Does it still hurt yes, I'm sure it will for a long time. People keep telling me how I am the face of USA Softball and I've done so much for the game, which I truly appreciate and am very very grateful for but its still hard for me to swallow the loss. It doesn't make losing any easier. I don't want to be known for that, at least not yet. I train to be an athlete not a face. I have dedicated part of my life to be the best pitcher I could be because I love to compete. I am best when I am competing not posing for pictures or on the red carpet or in the board room. I'm a competitor. I am grateful for all I've been able to do, I would've and could never dreamed of it all! I'm just a girl that loves to compete and have the ball in my hands. I love the challenge of facing hitters! I've never tried or trained or even thought about being the face of USA softball just being the best pitcher I could be.

Ultimately what brings me peace is knowing that it was the Lord's will. It's all part of His plan. The Big Man up stairs already knows and has already written His plan. All we can do is give all we have and if we have done that we are winners, winners in Him.

There are constant things that continue to go through my head and I'm sure they will for a long long time. I always have said what drives me is my fear of failure. Its a good fear. As a competitor you don't want to be a good loser, you don't want to get used to the feeling, it burns and it should. As an athlete you always want to have class and lose with grace but that doesn't mean you have to be a good loser. Wearing the USA Softball uniform is such a treasured honor especially knowing the tradition of it and the program. You are expected to win. Yes, there is pressure but what better pressure could you dream of. It has been created by many incredible women before us and knowing them and that every time you put it on, you are reminded. I feel terrible we didn't keep that tradition going. My mind continues to race what could we have done more or better of different.

Standing on that podium it hurt. Please don't think I am not grateful or honored to be a Silver Medalist I am! But we did lose the game. On top of the loss, we lost the entire game from the Olympics for 2012. We said good bye to many of our games greats, the one and only Laura Berg, my Ponytailed Powerhouse roommate and dear friend Crystl Bustos, many more of my amazing teammates, and many more from other countries. These women have given their lives to the sport and the sport will forever be changed because of them! Thinking this could be the last time softball players could have the opportunity to stand in the Olympic arena. The many young and old girls that have dreamed of this moment and weren't able or will not be able to experience it. And I can't deny, my heart was aching for Ace and Casey up there too.

I can remember in Greece standing on the podium looking down at Coach hugging his son and daughter so tightly filled with emotion. They were missing their mom and wife, this really put things in perspective for me. Life isn't about medals or what color medals, it is how you play the game of life. Enjoying everyday that the Lord has blessed us with, knowing that it could be our last. We never know. It really hit me hard on that podium in Athens. As much as we have made our lives about our sport and medals, there is so much more. There in Athens it was supposed to be the most magical moment of my entire life which it was up there for sure on my list... but the Lord spoke to me in that magical moment different from what I thought and expected.

I have been trying to get myself to write this, my mind has been racing the last few days. I really wanted to be able to organize my thoughts and truly tell how I was feeling. I have tried. Thank you for your patience and understanding! I woke up this morning at 5 am knowing it was time. It was time to face it. I can not thank you enough for all your prayers, kind words, and thoughts!

I've been faced with questions regarding retirement too. Lord willing I feel I have some more pitches in this right arm, I still have that fire in me, and I can't imagine walking away as of now. I love my teammates so very much and would go to battle with them and for them any day. I look forward to getting back on the field with them again! I look forward to getting back up to Chicago being a Bandit, and still wearing USA across my chest!

As of right now I can't get enough of my little man and my husband. I have smiled so much in the last 24 hours being home with them. I look forward for the next few months being the mom, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, I haven't been able to be this last year!

Always dreaming & believing!
#27 Jennie Finch