Monday, December 1, 2014

The Momentum is Rising

The question: What do you get when you put together two high-energy, passionate, uber-talented softball stars with a desire to pass their knowledge of the game onto the next generation?

Allard & Scharkey-Jensen, your resident slapping experts
The answer: 'Be the Momentum', the new slapper-oriented business founded by former Northwestern greats Emily Allard and Kristin Scharkey Jensen.

In Kirk Walker's book The Softball Drill Book, he writes of slapping: "the idea behind the skill is to hit the ball to a place on the infield that's farthest from the place where the out needs to be made". notes that "in order to be an effective slapper you will need above average speed and hand eye coordination."

The duo of speedy ex-Wildcats was one of the most energetic and exciting during their college days, and they're relying on their impressive skill sets and likable personalities to make them the leaders in the slapper-tutoring business.

You can credit Allard's Chicago Bandits teammate Sara Moulton and a car ride for Be the Momentum's concept. "The idea to start our own business began after we held a  slapping clinic together at [Moulton's] new facility Strike Zone Sports in Minnesota," they said. "The clinic could not have gone any better."

After the immense success of their first venture, the two spent the six-hour ride back to Chicago tossing around ideas for their own business centering around teaching the next generation of slappers. "What if we provided a place for slappers to not only receive instruction but to feel empowered?" they asked themselves. And Be the Momentum was born.

Lest you think this is just another emphasis clinic, let me set you straight. As focused as Allard & Jensen are on teaching the game face-to-face with their students, they plan to utilize their online and social media presence equally to their advantage. Allard, whose first degree is in marketing and communications and who was recently hired as the marketing manager for the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), might even be considered an expert on social media-impact in today's world, and how to use it to a new and fledgling business' advantage.

They're already in demand, turning up in St. Louis and Iowa just in the weeks since the business launched. While they want to work with anyone who will have them, these ladies are two smart cookies and realize that won't always be possible. It's times like that when having an established method of online tutoring and giving tips will come in especially handy. 

Be the Momentum isn't a full-time gig for either, and don't look for it to become one anytime soon. Both Allard and Jensen are in the last leg of graduate school, after which promising careers await. Allard will graduate later this month while Jensen will receive her diploma in the spring. As I mentioned, Allard is also working in marketing for the NFCA and has already signed to return to the Chicago Bandits for her second season in 2015; Jensen is a freelance writer and happens to be writing for the Chicago Tribune.

Allard and Jensen answered all of my questions as a team, and when they told me their mission statement, it really shows how well put-together this business is: "We believe in slappers. We believe setting the table is as important as clearing the bases. We believe speed kills. And we believe slappers hold a unique ability to influence the momentum of our game. We want to come alongside young players who seek to hone their skills as triple threats. We want to prepare slappers to set the tone each inning by empowering them to see their game-changing potential and value as table-setters. Most of all, we want to empower young girls to "Be the Momentum". While that starts on the field, it carries into much bigger things off of it. Personal and professional dreams become completely attainable visions when you create your own momentum by putting in the work to achieve them."

What'd I tell ya? These are two ladies who have as much intelligence as they do softball skills.

Not a slapper? Don't worry. Be the Momentum's social media accounts (linked below) are something everybody should be following. And slapping, though the primary focus of the business, isn't the only thing Allard and Jensen teach. Smart base running and being the best outfielder you can be are also on the list. "A lot of younger players can get away with 'just being fast'," they told me. "But as you get older, you have to develop those instincts into being a good base runner… Our goal is to help younger players understand and utilize their speed both on the base paths and in the batter's box, as well as in the outfield."

Social media links: Facebook; Twitter; Instagram

Be the Momentum isn't just a business name; for Emily Allard and Kristin Jensen, they're words to live by. You can expect BtM to keep growing in leaps and bounds, and don't be surprised if this duo of ladies becomes the leading authority on slapping. When they do, just remember - you heard it here first.

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