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Beverly Yanez Talks Retirement


Beverly Yanez joined Reign FC during the second season of the NWSL. She went on to play six seasons for the club, having previously played abroad for INAC Kobe Leonessa in Japan. After a decade of professional soccer, Yanez announced this week that she was retiring from the sport. She sat down with JWS to discuss her hopes for the future, why now is the time to step away, and how much the league has grown since she joined.

How have the last few days been since you announced your retirement?  

It’s been emotional, just seeing the outpouring of love. I’m very grateful for the amount of people that have reached out, whether it be on social media or to me personally. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster knowing that I’m finished doing something that I’ve done for so long, something that has brought me so much happiness and structure to my life. Soccer has been such a big part of my identity that it feels weird to ask what I’m going to do without it, because it’s all I’ve known since I was a kid. But I’m also very excited for the future.

Why is now the right time to step away? 

There was a lot of thinking that went into the decision. In part, I started to feel that, though I love the sport so so much, my body just isn’t recovering like it used to. I feel like I’m getting a little bit older. I’m also very excited at the thought of starting a family. And I knew that I wanted my career to end on a positive note. I wanted to walk away still loving the game, which I do. To step away is tough, but I’m incredibly grateful for everything that it’s brought to my life. And I’m thankful to be able to walk away on my own terms, having had such a positive experience and with so many good memories. I can honestly say in my heart of heart that I gave it everything I have.

What are you most looking forward to about retirement? 

I think it’s easy for people to overlook how much you have to sacrifice to consistently play at the highest level. Every single day of my career I woke up asking how I could be the best version of myself in order to help the team. Every single thing in my everyday life revolved around the fact that I needed to perform at my best. That meant I ate at a certain time every day, and I ate certain things the day before a game and the day of a game. It meant I couldn’t walk my dogs on game day because I could never be sure how long they’d want to go. I had to manage my body on a consistent basis and obsess over every little thing. I loved it, and that’s how I chose to live, but that kind of life can also be very, very draining after a long period of time. So I’m excited to now just get up and ask myself, like, what do I want to eat today? Do I want to walk the dogs twice today? Having that kind of daily flexibility is honestly what I’m most excited about. That and getting to spend more time with my husband, of course.

What was it like getting to play for Reign FC throughout your NWSL career? 

I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll say it a million more, but to be able to start and end my NWSL career with Reign FC has been a true honor. The club has just been so incredible during my entire time there. They take such good care of their players. They give them the maximum that they can, not just financially, but with whatever they can do to make sure players are comfortable and enjoying their experience. It’s a fun and competitive environment where athletes can thrive. They really care about you as a person, which was a huge reason why I stayed there for so long.

You’ve been in the league since almost the beginning. How has it changed in your time? 

I have seen the league grow immensely over the course of my career, which is one reason I’m so at peace walking away now. I’ve been able to witness and be a part of the growth, and now I step away with so much hope that it will continue to grow. The difference between how many boys and girls come up to ask us for autographs at airports now versus six years ago is just incredible, and it shows you that our efforts have made a real difference. Even in retirement, I’m still going to do what I can to give back to the younger players and use my knowledge and my experience to empower those who are fighting for more recognition and equality. What the national team did this past summer was beyond amazing, and I’m in complete support of them and all other women who are standing up for more equality across the board. I got to experience that fight firsthand and now I’m going to be able step away and continue to encourage those who are working to grow and improve the league.

Looking back, how are you different now than you were at the beginning of your career?

It’s been an incredible journey. The game has taught me things that I will carry with me the rest of my life. It’s taught me how to improve myself, how to be organized and healthy, how to be there for my teammates, how to come together and find commonalities with people I might have never talked to if I passed them on the street. It’s made me look at life differently, and I’m going to take that with me into my new everyday reality. I want to get to know people, I want to get to share my experiences with people. I want to hear about what other peoples’ lives are like. And that’s because soccer showed me how to be more outgoing, how to be more of an extrovert, how to open up and get to know people. It’s let me travel the world and meet the most amazing people who I will call friends for the rest of my life. There’s so many stories I hope to tell my kids someday about the people I met and the journey I had.

Alyssa Naeher’s goalkeeper jersey sells out in less than three hours

uwnt goalie alyssa naeher wears jersey on the field with club team chicago red stars
USWNT star keeper Alyssa Naeher's new replica NWSL jersey was an instant success. (Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports)

For the first time in the NWSL's 12-year history, fans can now buy their own goalkeeper jerseys. And while replica goalkeeper jerseys representing all 14 NWSL teams hit the market on Wednesday, some didn't stick around for long. 

Fans across women's soccer have long vocalized their discontent over the position's lack of availability on social media, often comparing the shortcoming to the widespread availability of men’s goalkeeper jerseys. And as the NWSL has grown, so has demand — and not just from those in the stands. 

"To have goalkeeper kits available for fans in the women’s game as they have been for so long in the men’s game is not only a long-awaited move in the right direction, it’s just good business," said Washington Spirit goalie Aubrey Kingsbury in an team press release. "I can’t wait to see fans representing me, Barnie [Barnhart], and Lyza in the stands at Audi!"

Business does, in fact, appear to be booming. Alyssa Naeher’s Chicago Red Stars kit sold out less than three hours after the league's announcement. Jerseys for other keepers like DiDi Haračić, Abby Smith, Michelle Betos, Katelyn Rowland, and Bella Bixby aren’t currently available via the Official NWSL Shop, though blank goalkeeper jerseys can be customized through some individual team sites. Jerseys start at $110 each.

"This should be the benchmark," said Spirit Chief Operations Officer Theresa McDonnell. "The expectation is that all players’ jerseys are available to fans. Keepers are inspiring leaders and mentors with their own unique fan base who want to represent them... I can’t wait to see them all over the city."

Simone Biles talks Tokyo Olympics fallout in new interview

gymnast simone biles on a balance beam
Biles' candid interview shed light on the gymnast's internal struggle. (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Decorated gymnast Simone Biles took to the popular Call Her Daddy podcast this week to open up about her experience at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, revealing she thought she was going to be "banned from America" for her performance.

After Biles botched her vault routine due to a bout of the "twisties," she withdrew from the team final as well as the all-around final in order to focus on her mental health. She later reentered the competition to win bronze in the individual balance beam final.

In her interview with podcast host Alex Cooper, Biles admitted to feeling like she let the entire country down by failing her vault attempt.

"As soon as I landed I was like 'Oh, America hates me. The world is going to hate me. I can only see what they’re saying on Twitter right now,'" she recalled thinking. "I was like, ‘Holy s---, what are they gonna say about me?'"

"I thought I was going to be banned from America," she continued. "That’s what they tell you: Don’t come back if not gold. Gold or bust. Don’t come back."

Widely regarded as the greatest gymnast of all time, Biles has hinted at a desire to join her third Olympic team in Paris, though her participation won't be confirmed until after the gymnastics trials in late June. She holds over 30 medals from the Olympic Games and World Artistic Gymnastics Championships combined, and if qualified, would be a sure favorite heading into this summer’s games.

Caitlin Clark reportedly nearing $20 million+ Nike deal

Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever poses for a portrait at Gainbridge Fieldhouse during her introductory press conference
WNBA-bound Caitlin Clark is said to be closing in on a monumental NIke deal. (Photo by Matt Kryger/NBAE via Getty Images)

Caitlin Clark is reportedly close to cementing a hefty endorsement deal with Nike.

The Athletic was the first to break the news Wednesday evening, commenting that the deal would be worth "eight figures" and include her own signature shoe. On Thursday afternoon, the publication tweeted that the deal would top $20 million, according to lead NBA Insider Shams Charania. Both Under Armour and Adidas are said to have also made sizable offers to the college phenom and expected future WNBA star.

The new agreement comes after Clark's previous Nike partnership ended with the conclusion of the college basketball season. She was one of five NCAA athletes to sign an NIL deal with the brand back in October, 2022. 

Considering Clark's overwhelming popularity and Nike's deep pockets, the signing's purported value doesn't exactly come as a shock. New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu’s deal with the brand is reportedly worth $24 million, while NBA rookie and No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama’s deal is rumored to weigh in at $100 million. And in 2003, LeBron James famously earned $90 million off his own Nike deal. 

Clark’s star power continues to skyrocket, with the NCAA championship averaging 18.9 million viewers and the 2024 WNBA Draft more than doubling its previous viewership record. Following the draft, Fanatics stated that Clark's Indiana Fever jersey — which sold out within an hour — was the top seller for any draft night pick in the company’s history, with droves of unlucky fans now being forced to wait until August to get their hands on some official No. 22 gear.

In Wednesday's Indiana Fever introductory press conference, the unfailingly cool, calm, and collected Clark said that turning pro hasn’t made a huge impact on how she’s conducting her deals.

"If I’m being completely honest, I feel like it doesn’t change a ton from how I lived my life over the course of the last year," she said. "Sponsorships stay the same. The people around me, agents and whatnot, have been able to help me and guide me through the course of the last year. I don’t know if I would be in this moment if it wasn’t for a lot of them."

Star slugger Jocelyn Alo joins Athletes Unlimited AUX league

softball star jocelyn alo rounds the bases at an oklahoma sooners game
Former Oklahoma star Jocelyn Alo has signed with Athletes Unlimited. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Former Oklahoma slugger Jocelyn Alo has signed on with Athletes Unlimited and will compete in the AU Pro Softball AUX this June.

The NCAA record holder in career home runs (122), total bases (761), and slugging percentage (.987), Alo was originally drafted by the league in 2022 but opted instead to join the newly debuted Women’s Professional Fastpitch

Alo currently plays for independent pro softball team Oklahoma City Spark, with team owner Tina Floyd reportedly on board with her recent AUX signing. AUX games are scheduled for June 10-25, while the Spark's season will kick off June 19th. Alo will play for both. 

Among those joining Alo on the AUX roster are former James Madison ace pitcher Odicci Alexander and former Wichita State standout middle infielder Sydney McKinney.

According to Alo, the decision to play in the Athletes Unlimited league was fueled by her desire to propel women's sports forward as well as provide more exposure to a sport that's given her "so many opportunities."

"Not only to challenge myself more, but just for the growth of the game," Alo said, explaining her reasoning to The Oklahoman. "I genuinely believe that professional softball can be a career for girls."

Joining AUX is also one more step in her plan toward representing Team USA at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

"I’m constantly thinking about how can I do these little things right in these four years to prepare me for the biggest stage of softball," she told The Oklahoman. "I definitely want to play in the Olympics, for sure."

Alo further expressed enthusiasm in the hope that the rise of other women’s sports, like women’s basketball and the NWSL, will push softball’s professional viability even higher.

"We’re seeing the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) get their stuff going, I see the WNBA starting to get hot," she continued. "I feel like the softball community is like, 'All right, it’s our turn and it’s our turn to just demand more.'"

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