The founders of Be the Momentum, Emily Allard and Kristin Scharkey, both graduated from Northwestern University, where the pair hit back-to-back in the Wildcat lineup for four years.
Emily Allard originally from Antioch, CA, was born and raised in the Bay Area. She graduated from Northwestern University in 2014 as a four-time All-B1G team member, four-time Academic All-B1G, three-time NFCA All-Region team member, 2011 NFCA Golden Shoe Award Winner, and was named to the Top 50 Player Watchlist three times throughout her career. Some of her impressive offensive stats include her NU single-season batting record of .491, 300+ career hits, and 154 career stolen bases. Allard is a current member of the Chicago Bandits National Pro Fastpitch franchise and has shined over the past three seasons. Her standout rookie campaign in 2014 landed her a spot on the ALL-NPF team, in 2015 she was the NPF Rally Spikes Winner for most stolen bases, and she has helped the Bandits win back to back championships the past two summers. Allard currently works for the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.
Hailing from Southern California, Kristin Scharkey graduated from Northwestern in 2013 as an NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. Ranking seventh in school history for career stolen bases, the center fielder hit over .300 her last two seasons playing one of the toughest schedules in Division I and ended her senior year just two triples shy of the school’s single-season record. Scharkey hosted a blog, Schark Bytes throughout her time as a Wildcat and currently works as the editor of DESERT magazine in Palm Springs, Calif.
Emily Allard and Kristin Scharkey started Be the Momentum in 2014 as a weekend hobby in addition to their full-time jobs. Their passion for the game of softball is evident but those who have seen or been a part of a Be the Momentum clinic may argue that their passion for teaching runs even deeper.
FPN: What is Be the Momentum? Why that name?
EA: Be The Momentum revolves around slappers. We are most known for our clinics across the country, but we aim to provide slappers a place where they feel valued and appreciated for their unique role within the team. Through our website, social media channels and physical presence, we hope to educate coaches, parents and players on not only the proper fundamentals of slapping but the ability for speed to impact the momentum of our game.
KS: In every game, there are shifts in momentum, from a centerfielder throwing out a runner at home plate to a 13-pitch at-bat that ends with a base hit up the middle. Controlling as well as creating momentum is vital to a team’s success, as it can directly affect the final score. We believe slappers are catalysts for these game-changing moments. We believe they have the inherent ability to consistently set the tone of an inning – of a game! Because of their speed, slappers are a run threat the moment they step into the batter’s box. We want to empower them to see their value and develop their skill set so that they have the confidence to create, control and BE the momentum.
FPN: How did Be the Momentum come about?
EA: Funny story. My Chicago Bandit teammate and roommate Sara Moulton opened up a new facility in Minnesota with her business partner in 2014. Sara reached out to me to host a slapping clinic to help drive traffic and awareness to the area. Once the numbers started to rise, I reached out to my best friend Kristin Scharkey for some help. We had SO MUCH FUN that weekend and spent the entire six-hour drive home throwing out ideas on how to start our own slapping business. Three days later, we launched our website and social media accounts. Talk about a leap of faith!
FPN: Why is slapping such a critical part of the game?
EA: Speed never takes a day off. When a slapper steps into the box, the defense’s hearts immediately beat a little faster, not because we might overpower them, but because they literally have to be PERFECT to get us out. That is a huge advantage for us. And once we get on, we steal. Once we steal, we score.
FPN: Do you believe slapping is overlooked?
KS: I don’t think slapping is as “overlooked” as much as it is under-celebrated. I think many slappers feel like they have less value because they don’t hit the long ball. What Emily and I communicate is the incredible importance of the role that slappers play on their teams. Slappers create momentum – we can do it with a 3-foot mishit to the left side because of our speed! Emily and I celebrate perfect bunts just as enthusiastically as we do a home run.
EA: Agreed. We like to say setting the table is just as important as clearing the bases.
FPN: Where have you traveled to so far to host your clinics?
KS: Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, New Jersey, Tennessee, California, Florida and Wisconsin
FPN: What does a typical clinic day for Be the Momentum look like?
KS: This month, we launched our first-ever Slapper Boot Camp. It’s a three-hour opportunity for slappers to not only hone their mechanical skill set but also improve their speed and develop their mental decision-making – slapping, speed, and savvy. First, we work on proper running form and technique – even the fast kids can get faster! We also run agility drills and compete – don’t be surprised when Emily and I jump into the race. Then, we transition to slapping fundamentals and savvy. Using drills, tee work, and front toss stations, we cover the tools that triple threats can use, as well as when to use them. A slapper’s ability to read defenses and play to their own strengths leads to chaos on the field.
FPN: What other services does Be the Momentum offer besides slapping?
KS: We host defensive sessions for both infielders and outfielders so that non-slappers can come, too!
FPN: What is the most rewarding part of Be the Momentum for you personally?
EA: Empowering young women, for sure. Clinics are fun and we take pride in our ability to teach fundamentals and mechanics in an effective way, but I get the most enjoyment out of watching the kids progress through their time with us. When it clicks for a kid, or they try something new and it works, that’s the best part. Kristin and I challenge ourselves often to try and figure out how to make it “click” for kids faster and faster each time we work with them. That’s how we stay competitive post-college.
KS: During our boot camps, we set aside time to talk about the mental side of slapping. One tip we like to share is the importance of focusing on positive adjustments instead of negative emotion. There’s nothing better than seeing a kid who’s down on herself in the beginning of our camp then understand this concept and become more level-headed by the end. So much of our game translates to life: We not only want to empower our athletes to be great slappers but also strong, young women. Both Emily and I have full-time jobs outside of this company, and so much of what we’ve learned from softball translates to our careers. We want athletes to walk away from our camps knowing how to deal with mistakes – both on and off the field – in a productive way and be better because of them.
FPN: Do you have any advice for young girls who hope to be in your shoes one day?
EA: Stop trying to be perfect. Stop trying not to make mistakes. Stop being afraid to “fail.” Failure is subjective. As long as you learn from a mistake, you will never fail. And never stop smiling. The moment you stop smiling playing the game is the moment you should hang up your cleats.
KS: My favorite quote by Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” Also go to class. Put as much heart into developing your passions off the field as you put into the game. Respect your teammates. Thank your parents for driving you to practice. Instead of looking to others, look to yourself – how are you putting your unique voice into the world? When it comes to recruiting, don’t be afraid to wait. Look college coaches in the eye when you shake their hand. Know that the opportunity to play in college is both an honor and a responsibility – how will you represent the name across your chest? Think before you post to social media. Get to know every member in your athletic department. Run five yards past the line. Win every race. Even on Sunday mornings in the fall. You can always get better. Just because no one else is cheering, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Fear is a liar. Dreams don’t happen, they’re earned. Leaders care more about the win column than their own stat lines.
FPN: Where do you hope to see Be the Momentum in the near and far future?
EA: We take BTM one month at a time, but we are looking into doing more outside of clinics. I’ve really enjoyed speaking lately and we just opened up a shop so we’re adding things here and there. Who knows where the wind will blow us.
FPN: Anything else you would like to add?
EA: Kristin and I are huge on individualized attention. When parents are willing to pay for their children to improve their game – and then they choose US to be the ones to teach their kids – we take a lot of pride in that. There are plenty of people and services in this world to help you get to the next level. We want to build relationships with these kids. We want to know their names and where they are from. We want to know what they’re afraid of so we can help them overcome those obstacles. Many kids who have come to our clinics have instant access to Kristin and I because we do this for them. At the end of the day, softball is the avenue, not the destination. Kristin and I strive to be role models for where these kids can GO, not where they are now. BTM just helps us reach these kids and send that message all across the country.
KS: We want our slappers to know that we’re their biggest cheerleaders. We want them to believe in themselves -as athletes and as women- as much as we believe in them. We fly hundreds of miles each year to make that happen, to communicate what we’ve learned in between the white lines, in the classroom and in the workplace. To make a difference for even one slapper is why we do what we do. BTM is about so much more than softball. It’s about empowerment, confidence, self-awareness and growth.
From a Coaches Perspective regarding BTM:
“Be The Momentum is definitely the best product any facility can offer. From the minute Kristin and Emily walk in the door, the energy in the facility changes. Their approach to the game is second to none. I sat in my facility and watched young ladies learn and SMILE, which is first and foremost. Beyond the game, these young ladies are role models who provide examples of humility and enthusiasm for every player they come across. I asked one question when it was all said and done: “What drives you guys?” and they responded, “We do it for them. We do it for the smiles.” Thank you Be The Momentum, I truly appreciate what you guys did for Jersey.” — Phil Delgado, Owner of Prodigy Training
Want more information on Be the Momentum?
Social Media connects:
Facebook: Be The Momentum
Personal Accounts: @eallard24 and @kscharkey
Feature image provided by: Lance Gerber