Dr. Julie Fink Inspiring Athletes and
Helping Them Heal

By RJ Walters
Photography by Jordan Randall
Developed in partnership with Nemours Children’s Health

When the Valdosta State softball team secured the final out against UC-San Diego to win the 2012 national title, it was the exclamation point on an incredible journey for pitcher Julia Fink.

Starting around age 11 she spent many weekends traveling to tournaments where she would grind out game after game, usually throwing hundreds of pitches. For most of her formative years all Julia wanted to do was play softball, and she couldn’t see past the bright lights of the diamond.

Being part of teams that won four consecutive Gulf South Conference Championships and a national title are proof of a dream realized, but for Julia—now Dr. Fink—a different chapter of her athletic career was the catalyst for making an impact for others. Half way through her high school softball career she suffered a devastating injury to her pitching arm that required Tommy John Surgery, a reconstruction of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in her elbow.

She couldn’t pitch during her junior year and became very familiar with rehab and physical therapy. As she was going stir crazy, the opportunity to shadow an orthopedic surgeon arose, and she quickly realized that “a career in sports” could be a lifelong pursuit worth chasing—a pursuit that recently led her to Nemours Children’s Health at Lakeland Regional Health.

“[When I shadowed the surgeon] I was like, ‘This is what I want. I want to be the one who fixes the problem,’” she says. “It’s almost like instant gratification. It’s broken and now it’s repaired, which I loved.”

“[When I shadowed the surgeon] I was like, ‘This is what I want. I want to be the one who fixes the problem.”

That experience was the catalyst for a path that took Fink through medical school at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, a residency program at Jack Hughston Memorial Hospital in Alabama and a fellowship in pediatric orthopedics at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite.

Along the way, she dove into research about the impact pitching has on a female’s arm and how experiences and medical science could help create pitch restrictions and other preventive measures— something that baseball coaches and trainers long had data to rely on, but softball players and staff did not.

“A lot of biomechanical studies have come out that showed throwing underhand is just as stressful on your shoulder and elbow as an overhand pitch, where everybody used to say, well it’s underhand, it’s a natural motion of the shoulder,” Fink said.

Dr. Fink received a STOP Sports Injuries Award from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sport Medicine in 2022, and her passion for helping athletes is what led her to joining Nemours in September as part of the pediatric sports medicine program.

Fink said the focus of Nemours is “to treat every child,” and she’s excited to be part of that mission in a county that is growing quickly, and is home to more kid and teen athletes than ever before.

The board-certified surgeon will conduct surgeries like hip dysplasia in newborns and infants, but the majority of her focus will be on young athletes, ultimately building a practice that can assist individuals who remind her of her younger self. Fink said she’s looking forward to being a resource for coaches and trainers who are working with athletes who get injured or need assistance with preventive recommendations and practices.

Fink’s husband, Dr. Devin Collins, is a surgeon at Florida Orthopaedic Institute, and the couple are proud parents to 2-year-old Lexi who Fink said she expects will “play all kinds of different sports….to keep her active and to use all her different muscles to help prevent injuries.