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Sharonda Butler Stewart is married to retired MLB player Shannon Stewart. They are a busy family with three young children and currently reside in Miami, Florida. Sharonda shares her insights on retirement and how to keep in touch with yourself in this #SiSlife. In addition to a full family life, she has also started her own business – Sporty Mommas, LLC! Get to know Sharonda below…
How did you & Shannon meet?
Whenever people ask me how I met Shannon I smile. My senior year of college I had to complete an internship and at first I didn’t want to go back to Miami but the supervisor said you want to intern in the city that you want to teach in. So I ended up interning at my old elementary school in a fourth grade class with Shannon’s mom as my supervising teacher. One day in late October Shannon dropped by to see his mom (so I thought). Weeks later I found out it was a total set up.
Tell us what the years in retirement from MLB have been like. Any advice for fellow SiSters headed toward retirement from the game?
Retirement started out a little rough. We had our second child in 2008 and Shannon got injured right before delivery. We thought he could rehab and come back in 2009 but the phone never rang. The next few years were crazy. He was going through his thing and I was going through mine. You never really know what to expect so when it happens you just have to roll with it. During that time our relationship struggled but I just kept praying my way through it. I can’t imagine what life would be like today if I had given up. I remember calling on my fellow SiSters to help me get through it. They told me to just let him go through his thing and not to pressure him. Eventually he came out of the retirement funk and focused on our family. It took about 2 years to get back to normal. Ok who am I kidding there is no such thing as normal in Baseball.
You founded Sporty Mommas, LLC, a lifestyle brand for Moms. Tell us about the company & the inspiration behind it?
Sporty Mommas was created during the early part of retirement. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life because I was used to being a SAHM and baseball wife traveling city to city. Next thing I know I am home with two little kids and a retired hubby. I prayed and began beading and creating different things. I had some issues with low self-esteem after the kids were getting older and I struggled getting off the baby weight. I realized I couldn’t be the only mom feeling like this. I remember going to the salon and chopping off my hair. At that moment I thought hey I still got it going on. I want to encourage other moms and remind them that they have it going on too. It started with a few tee shirts but now I am on a mission to empower moms. #Sportymommas
What is next for Sporty Mommas?
What’s next for Sporty Mommas? Honestly I don’t know. I am looking for ways to expand the brand and build a larger online community that motivates moms and encourages them when they are going through those rough patches of motherhood. We have the 3rd Annual Sporty Mommas Charitable Bowling bash on September 30th in Miami. This event raises funds for local breast cancer support groups.
What advice would you give to fellow SiSters looking to start a business?
If you are thinking of starting a business don’t wait for the perfect opportunity. Just do it! You will have ups and downs and sometimes you will have to change your plan or even create a new plan but don’t give up.
If you had to choose one piece of advice for new athlete wives, what would it be?
Looking back over the years I wish someone would have told me to keep doing my thing. We are so blessed to be part of this game but there is life after the game ends. Make time for you. (Not just shopping and pampering!) If it is sewing, biking, teaching, find a way to squeeze it in.
I know you were just on the MLB WAGs annual trip, so how do you keep in touch with fellow SiSters (besides via Spouses in Sports) and connect with that network of women?
Social Media has been a great tool for keeping us connected. Last year, I connected with many SiSters on Instagram and was invited to the MLBWAGS2014 trip. I only knew about 8 ladies, but after that trip I met many others. I keep in touch with SiSters from former teams on Facebook as well and it is amazing. If I have a question or need help with something that I am working on I usually reach out to them first. (I will admit that when my husband was active I did not use social media because of the negativity that comes with it.) Networking with the other spouses starts on your team. Stay connected with them and be open to meeting new women. We are all different and have different talents but we have a common thread we are “SiSters”. Nobody understands this lifestyle like a fellow SiS!
What are your thoughts on the importance of a community like SiS? How do you think SiS can be a resource to the “better halves” in sports?
I think SIS is a great tool for women in sports. I believe in networking and sharing our knowledge, resources, strengths and stories of how to survive this lifestyle. Life during the game is one thing, but retirement brings on a whole new ballgame. I love what you SiSters are doing and I look forward to working together and watching it grow.