It's early January and cold outside. My thoughts turn to softball to warm my brain. When thinking of softball, I start with the Chicago Bandits and nobody represents the Bandits better than #24, Emily Allard.
Emily represents all that is good in the National Pro Fastpitch and the Bandits. You couldn't find a better role model for youngsters (boys and girls).
Emily has been with the Bandits all three seasons I have had the pleasure of covering the team. Unfortunately, due to a concussion, Emily missed much of last season. She was sorely missed by the fans and team, as much as she missed playing. The love is strong and it flows strong between Emily and the fans. In On the Beat With Emily Allard, you can hear her discuss her passion for the fans. This comes from the heart and Emily has a lot of heart.
I have seen Emily sign hundreds of autographs and take just as many pictures (several with me, in fact). She works tirelessly to promote the sport and support the youth.
Emily is one of the founders of Be The Momentum, dedicated to empowering slappers. Emily is proof that you do not have to hit towering home runs to be a successful player and she is more than happy to teach that skill and pass it on. Yes, it is a business, but it is more than that for Emily. It is a calling.
I hope and believe Emily will come back strong in 2017. I'll be there covering her comeback and cheering all the way. Fortunately for me, I don't have to be an unbiased journalist. Around the Bandits, I'd have no chance at staying impartial anyway.
Emily Allard and me in Park Ridge, IL-June 2016.