Growing up on the north side of Cicero, Sharen’s interest in sports began at a young age as she was always playing basketball, softball, hockey, football, and swimming. When she was nine years old, she asked her parents if she could join the boys little league – her mother, Camille Olmstead, said, “no, if they wanted girls to play, they would have a separate league of their own”. She asked her mother if she could start a league for girls. The very next day, her mother walked to Valentine Little League, and together with Walter Banis, organized and began one of the first twelve-inch girls softball leagues in Cicero for girls ages nine-to-thirteen. Her mother also was her first coach, and Sharen credits her mother’s knowledge of the game and tenacity for much of her success because she was one of the toughest coaches she ever played for.
Sharen attended Burnham Elementary School in Cicero where her sixteen-inch softball career began. She played shortstop for the Bulldogs who won the Cicero Grade Schools 8th grade championship. She attended Morton East High School, where she was a three-sport varsity athlete in volleyball, basketball, and softball for all four years, earning numerous all-conference awards. Her senior year, she was also named to the Chicago Tribune All-Area Volleyball Team. She went on to earn a full-ride scholarship in volleyball to a Division I University – The University of Missouri-Columbia (Mizzou). While at Mizzou, she was named to the All-Big 8 team in each of her four years and earned many all-tournament team honors. In 1984, she had the distinct honor of participating in the National Sports Festival, representing the North in volleyball. After graduating with a degree in physical education in 1985, Sharen returned to Mizzou to work on a master’s degree while finishing out her athletic eligibility, playing a year of softball.
Sharen’s big break into sixteen-inch softball began when she was thirteen years old. While watching a women’s softball game at Warren Park in Cicero, a foul ball was hit well beyond the left fielder. Sharen picked up the ball and threw it all the way to the pitcher. That’s when the left fielder (Cyndi Eukovich) asked her if she’d be interested in playing for their team, the Fillies out of Clyde Park in Cicero. While with the Fillies, she began her career playing short center, but with an unbelievable “read” of the ball off the bat, her wide range, and strong arm, she was soon moved to shortstop. She played the next ten or so years with the Fillies, winning many league championships in Cicero. She was also a part of a co-ed team, combining the Fillies with members of the men’s powerhouse team, the Titans, of Cicero. Together, they went on to win numerous co-ed tournament championships in Trevor, Wisconsin.
As the focus of her career shifted to include tournament play, some members of the Fillies and Sharen formed the Break-A-Ways, playing sixteen-inch in Cicero (in both Clyde Park and Hawthorne), Normandy Park in Chicago, and twelve-inch in Janura Park in Berwyn, where they dominated those leagues for years. While with the Break-A-Ways, the team won the USSA State Championship twice, the Country Club Hills Tournament, and were runners-up in the Women’s Chicago Grant Park Tournament. Sharen received many all-tournament honors during this time. It was during this time that she was asked to join the Desperados who were playing in leagues in Calumet City and Worth. Sharen played short center, shortstop and third base for the Desperados. They won the ASA sixteen-inch METRO championship, The Quest for the Best Championship (in which she was named Defensive MVP for her play at third base), Worth league championships, as well as Calumet City league championships.
Sharen’s career also played in co-ed leagues and tournaments with the Juicer’s and Hosers out of Wentworth Park in Chicago. She played third base (without using a glove) for both teams. During this time, the Juicers were nine- time Grant Park tournament champions, along with many other tournament championships, and won many Wentworth league championships.
Sharen’s sixteen-inch softball career spanned thirty years of playing every day (often in two leagues a night) and every weekend in tournaments. She is currently employed at her alma mater, Morton East High School, where she has taught physical education for the past thirty years. She resides in Lyons, Illinois.