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Carli Snyder Talks Fleeing France

KANSAS CITY, MO – DECEMBER 16: Carli Snyder (4) of the University of Florida runs onto the court during the Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship held at Sprint Center on December 16, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

On Monday, March 16th, President Emmanuel Macron of France announced a 15-day countrywide lockdown. The very next morning, Carli Snyder was on a plane back to America. The Michigan native and University of Florida graduate had been playing volleyball for ASPTT Mulhouse, whose season has officially been postponed due to the spread of the coronavirus. We spoke with Snyder about what it was like to pack up her life overnight, the mood in both countries, and what she plans to do next.  

Can you walk us through what the last few weeks has been like? 

So the week before I left, our team was put under a kind of quarantine. They postponed the league and said it was up to our teams to decide if we could practice or not. At that point, our team was going to continue practicing until April 5th, when the league was originally supposed to be resuming. So up until last Monday afternoon I was under the impression that I would be staying in France. But then on Monday afternoon our coaches told the other American and I that Macron was going to give a speech that evening and that it would be smart to get out of France as soon as possible because a lockdown was coming.

So you didn’t know until Monday afternoon that you were leaving the next day? 

Yeah. I bought a ticket that afternoon for a 6:00am flight the next day. When you’re playing sports in another country, you’re so dependent on your team. And once the league was postponed, and I didn’t have those day-to-day interactions with my team, I felt distant from the club as I was trying to deal with these issues. I knew I had to leave quickly, because it wasn’t clear if there’d still be flights to America if I waited. There was so much confusion in the country. I barely speak French, so watching the president and others give speeches I couldn’t understand during a moment of crisis was stressful.

Confusion seems to be everywhere now. I imagine almost everyone on the planet now has gone online looking for reliable information and come up empty. 

There’s nothing. Even in France, I was like, I just need some information about what’s going on. But the problem is this hasn’t really happened in such a long time. And the way that our world is connected now is just so much more complicated than when we were dealing with the Spanish Flu, for instance. People obviously couldn’t hop on a Delta flight on a day’s notice during that time. They were forced to stay put by a lack of technology. But now technology gives us the ability to spread information and panic in an instant, and I think most of the truly valuable information ends up lost in the panic.

Have you been in contact with your club since coming back to the states?

A little bit. We’ve been in communication about the money situation because now that I’m in the US I have no access to a French bank account. We’re figuring that out. Mostly I’ve been trying to reach out and say sorry that I didn’t have longer to say goodbye. I mean, I had less than 12 hours to pack up and leave what has been my home for the last two years. I couldn’t stop or slow down to think clearly. But mentally, I wasn’t prepared to leave. I’ve truly loved playing on this team, and I really like the girls a lot, so I’ve just been reaching out to say I’m sorry it all happened the way it did.

I’m sure you all must realize there’s a chance the season isn’t resumed. 

We do, which is why I’m so sorry I had to leave the way I did. You can’t plan for any of this, and I think everyone on the team feels the same about having their lives interrupted. There’s so many moments we won’t get to have with the people we care about.

Obviously, there’s turmoil everywhere, but what are your thoughts about living in a world without sports?

My teammates and I have talked about this. Sports have always offered comfort in times of crisis. They’re a break from politics and religion and racial differences. They bring people together, which is rare in today’s world. That’s what’s so amazing about sports. They offer a break from the rest of reality. But now there’s this huge global threat, and large groups of people just can’t be together. It’s so unusual, especially for athletes who are used to being on a team. We’ve lost the thing that usually helps us through the most difficult times.

What’s it like to be at home? Do you have any sense as to what comes next?

It’s so strange, honestly. It’s strange because being home has always been a break for me. When I was at the University of Florida, we practiced year-round, so I only came home for a week at Christmas and then a week in the summer. And when I was home, I tried to pack everything in: family time, time with friends, time to go and play a little volleyball with people at my old club. Now it just feels really odd to be home because there’s this sense of not feeling finished. There’s no sense of resolution, so it feels weird to take a break.

If this season is eventually cancelled, the next would start in August. My contract is up in France at the end of this season, so I’ll have to talk to my agent if that’s the case. We’re all just waiting with the rest of the world to see how things unfold. Everything’s up in the air, but if there are leagues operating next year, I plan on playing. In the meantime, I’m going to quarantine and socially distance, and I’ll dedicate myself to some hobbies. But in the back of my mind, I have this lingering feeling of unfinished business.

Have you put any thought into how you’re going to work out while staying isolated back home? 

I keep getting tagged on this thing on Instagram to do 10 pushups, and I’m like, don’t tag me in these. I’m horrible at pushups [laughs]. So I’m not participating in any of those challenges, but luckily my family has an elliptical, a treadmill and some weights in the basement. I’ve been doing that, but of course, there’s nothing to replace the atmosphere of team sports.

I’m a community person. I’ve always gravitated toward team sports because you’re working with others. I need to know that I’m training for something, for the betterment of a group, and that’s hard right now because I have no idea what the future holds. I’m not used to being on an elliptical alone in my house.

You saw France initiate a lockdown. You’re now back in the states. Do you have a sense of a difference in moods between the countries? 

I think in France, the same as in Italy, and the same as here, the virus wasn’t taken so seriously at first. People like to be outside in France and sit at cafes, and they like to do their grocery shopping every day. It’s part of the culture. Macron put out a statement saying please stay inside, and the next day I saw people in the market still hugging each other. Macron had to make another statement saying this isn’t a joke, we’re just a few days behind Italy. And after that the city I live in became a ghost town.

So when I got back to the US, it felt like being back at that initial stage. We’re talking about it, we know it’s there, but people aren’t ready to completely adjust their lives. I saw St Patrick’s Day celebrations and kids on spring break packed into small spaces. These kinds of events were a bit concerning coming from Europe and seeing how easily this thing can spread.

It’s obvious we’re behind. We’ve known about this since late January or early February, and we’re only now taking precautions. I understand there’s a lot you have to consider regarding the economy, but I think we’ll now be forced to take some really drastic measures. I’m nervous, because this is a massive, massive country. On the other hand, I think we’re more equipped to do an extended shutdown. The stuffed suburban pantry is a very American concept — Europeans aren’t as used to stocking food. Now’s the time to eat those three-year-old Cheez-Its we’ve all got hiding in the backs of our pantries.

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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