By Bob Behre
The name Jennie Finch is synonymous with the word “softball.” The question that now comes to mind is how synonymous will Jennie Finch’s name be with the word “dancing” when her turn on Dancing With The Stars begins on April 30.
Finch, so familiar to the multitude of young softball players who stream through Diamond Nation each year, has joined a highly athletic cast for DWTS’ 26th season. Meanwhile, Jennie will spend a busy Saturday, April 21 during the Jennie Finch Spring Invitational at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
“We just started rehearsals on Monday,” said Finch on Wednesday.
The theme for DWTS season 26 is “Athletes” and the Dancing With The Stars production team has brought in an amazing collection of Olympic and professional athletes. Joining Finch in the chase for the Mirror Ball Trophy are Olympic figure skaters Adam Rippon, Mirai Nagasu and Tonya Harding, snowboarder Jamie Anderson, NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, luger Chris Mazdzer, former MLB all-star Johnny Damon, NFL cornerback Josh Norman and women's college basketball star Arike Ogunbowale of Notre Dame.
Jennie’s dance partner is Keo Motsepe, who has been one of DWTS’ professional dancers for seven of the past eight seasons.
“I’m not a dancer whatsoever,” said Finch. “Keo has a lot of work to do. I hope it encourages others to step out of their comfort zone and not be afraid to try something new, fail or look silly.”
A two-time Olympic gold medalist, Finch won a College World Series championship at the University of Arizona and she is no stranger to the entertainment business. Jennie has appeared on The Celebrity Apprentice, Pros vs. Joes and an episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County. She is also a regular participant at the MLB All-Star Game’s Celebrity Softball Game.
She is woman who willingly takes on challenges with a flourish. She’s successfully completed the New York City Marathon and the The New York City Triathlon.
“This is a big challenge,” said Finch. “It’s right up there with running the marathon and the triathlon. It’s beyond exciting though to be able to learn from some of the best and try something new.”
The show opens on April 30 with 10 athletes paired with a professional dancer. The program follows each dancer’s preparation, which assuredly will be a combination of grueling hours in rehearsals and many moments of frustration in learning what is for most of the competitors a new form of athleticism. The competitors are judged by a panel of ballroom dancing experts while viewers vote on who they believe deserves to advance each week.
“I was so excited and honored to learn I would be on the show,” said Finch. “I’ve never felt comfortable on the dance floor. I’m so nervous but, at the same time, excited for the challenge. I’m also filled with gratitude to be able to represent our sport of softball on this stage.”
In the end, only one athlete will rise above the rest to be crowned DWTS champion and take home the coveted Mirror Ball Trophy. Will it be Diamond Nation’s own Jennie Finch?