The skill of fitting it all in


Leslie Finkle, 42, finds a dozen ways to exercise throughout the day.

As a flag football player, top-notch softball player and coach for her two daughters' teams, she needs to squeeze fitness routines into an already crowded day.

Fortunately, working as a sailmaker keeps her trim. "My job is really physical," she says. "I work on boats, and I'm lifting 60- to 80-pound sails all day."

She often crawls around on hands and knees, cleaning and patching sails. Once a week she washes sails, which means constantly hauling five-gallon buckets full of water.

The Annapolis native and resident tacks on another chance for exercise by riding her bike to work. The five-mile commute takes about 20 minutes, and she often starts early to detour through the waterfront community of Bay Ridge.

Three or four mornings a week, her bike commute is preceded by a four- to six-mile run. Finkle also likes in-line skating, using the rowing machine at the gym and working with free weights at home.

A graduate of Annapolis High School, she played basketball and tennis there, in the days when those were the only sports available for women. And the tennis matches were just exhibitions, played against the boys' team.

The sport she finds most rewarding, though, is flag football.

"That is the most fun sport of all," she says. She plays Sunday mornings in the fall in a women's league in Greenbelt.

Over the years she has played cornerback on defense and tight end on offense. "At one point I played linebacker, which I really liked," she says. Although there is no tackling, blocking is allowed, and "it can be quite awesome contact."

When spring rolls around, she's in shape for the three softball teams she plays on, including a nationally ranked team. She also plays co-ed recreation-league softball with colleagues in the sailing industry on a team called the Boatyard Dogs.

A former shortstop, Finkle plays the outfield mostly and sometimes subs in at first base.

The closest she has come to a serious injury was in co-ed game, when she slid into home and the pitcher, "a big giant fellow," landed on her back. "I thought, 'This is it. I'm done,' " she says, recalling lying there unable to move or breathe. Fortunately, it was only a cracked rib.

What threatens her athletic pursuits most, it seems, is lack of time. She is spending more and more time coaching the teams of her daughters, Courtney, 14, and Whitney, 13. She's coached both girls in basketball, and is an assistant softball coach with the Annapolis High School JV team. She also coaches the girls' 13-14 rec softball team.

Because she's a single parent, getting the girls to their various games can be difficult. When possible, Whitney has played on her older sister's teams so she and Courtney could have the same schedule. But when both girls need to be on different fields or different courts, Finkle depends on the kindness of friends and neighbors for transportation.

"I just try to juggle it," she says, "and sometimes I miss my stuff for their stuff. I'm exhausted in the spring, but it levels out in midsummer."

And then she can start thinking about football season.

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad