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Caylee Waters on Joining Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse

Caylee Waters Goalkeeper on field / JWS
Caylee Waters Goalkeeper on field / JWS

Caylee Waters is a lacrosse goalie who will suit up to play for Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse in their inaugural season next summer. The new league will feature a unique, player-focused scoring system, with teams being redrafted each week as players compete for individual prizes. Waters is also a member of the US Women’s National Team and was a two-time National Goalie of the Year as a student-athlete at the University of North Carolina.

What originally sold you on the vision of Athletes Unlimited?

What sold me was the opportunity to continue bringing exposure to the game of lacrosse. Lacrosse is a sport I love, no matter what, and this an opportunity for us to grow the game. Even though the other leagues may not have worked out, we still had fan engagement, and people still refer to those leagues as ways to get to know players. After the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League folded, there weren’t any other options out there to play professional lacrosse apart from the U.S. national team, which only happens every four years. I was excited that there is now an opportunity, and having this league as a resource for the sport is what made me excited to hop on board.

What was the recruiting pitch and have you been recruiting other players since joining the roster? 

It hasn’t been my role necessarily to recruit other players. They had reached out to me about a few months ago and pitched this idea on a deck. It was totally a brand new concept, so I sat on it for a bit. They were great about letting me take my time with the process and ask questions.

I heard from softball player Gwen Svekis about her experience with the softball league, and she shared areas in which it was awesome in addition to what they learned they can work on as a league, and as players, to make it better next year. I was glad to hear it wasn’t all “hey, here’s all the great things that it’s going to be,” but that they were honest.

Lacrosse stats aren’t as clean cut as softball’s. What have you heard about what the point system will look like? And what are your overall thoughts on how it will work? 

I’m not too familiar with how it’s going to work specifically with lacrosse. I think they’re still coordinating and ironing out those details regarding the point system. I think it’s going to be an adjustment. It’s different.

Additionally, coming from a background of four years of college lacrosse, where you hear a lot emphasis on a team, this feels like a big mind shift to now focus on your individual stats. But what’s important to note is that although there are individual stats, these individual stats are dependent on other factors. A goal often depends on multiple players. So there is still that team concept, in addition to the fact you get points based on your team’s win. The game is not entirely individualized, which I like.

Another unique aspect of the AU format is how teams are re-drafted each week of the season by whichever players scored the most the week before. Do you have any initial thoughts on how you think that’ll go?

This is very different, so I’m excited to see how it goes. I’m not sure what it’s going to be like.

It’s similar to being back on the playground where you pick teams, and there’s always someone who has to be last, but no one ever wants to be that person. But at the end of the day, we all get the opportunity to play lacrosse.

We know the play will be fast because of the field size and shot clock — what other impacts are you predicting on play?

The game’s going to be a lot faster and it’s going to require people who usually are defenders or attackers to build their skills on the other side of the field because the ball will be moving back and forth so much. That will be fun to see. The game is going to be a lot more engaging given it has less players and smaller space. Each player is more involved than they would be in a bigger field with more people, where sometimes you could not see the ball for a long period of time. I think there will be a lot more involvement all around the field.

Obviously, there’s been a big push to get lacrosse in the Olympics in the near future. How do you think this league will impact that effort? 

Hopefully this inspires lacrosse players around the world. In the WPLL, they took a couple of trips to Japan and played lacrosse with them, in addition to getting a player from Japan involved in the league. Hopefully lacrosse will grow, and people all over the world can see it, aspire to be part of it, aspire to level up their game. And hopefully there being a lot more representation of the sport across the world leads to it being considered for the Olympics.

I know you have a full-time job, and I’m sure a lot of the other players have full time jobs too, or at least coaching positions that are full time positions. How do you balance that with being a professional athlete? Especially, when this is going to be a six week season. 

I have some confidence, because I have experience working from home while balancing training for the U.S. team. I think it’ll work out, since the games are on the weekend. The AU softball league had people who were able to work full time. They had people with kids and families who had to balance family time with being away. The league is understanding, and I feel it will be balanced. It’s what I’m used to: In college, you have to put academics first and then athletics. When you have a passion for something, you find a way to make it work.

Cameron Brink likes Caitlin Clark for 2024 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Brink poses with Caitlin Clark at 2024 wnba draft in new york
Cameron Brink poses with fellow draftee — and possible WNBA ROY —Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Emily Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cameron Brink already has her rookie of the year pick for the upcoming WNBA season, and it’s Indiana-bound star Caitlin Clark

In the latest edition of Kelley on the Street, host Kelley O'Hara caught up with Brink in New York hours before the Stanford phenom went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks at the 2024 WNBA Draft. When O’Hara asked who would win the WNBA's rookie of the year, she answered without pause.

"Caitlin Clark," she said, while a fan commented that she thought Brink would take home the award. Brink later added that the extra foul granted to WNBA players will be "good for me."

"I hope it’s me," Charisma Osborne, who was later drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, said when asked her ROY prediction. "But, I don’t know — we’ll see."

Watch more of Kelley on the Street:

Dash winger Maria Sanchez confirms trade request a day shy of NWSL deadline

María Sanchez of Houston Dash during a NWSL game
In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the club worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Maria Sanchez issued a statement on Thursday, confirming recent reports that she has requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

In it, she revealed that the club has been aware of the request "since late March."

"This has all taken a toll and isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but I want to confirm that I’ve requested an immediate trade," she wrote. "My expectations and reasons have been clear. I trust that my current club’s management will honor my decision in a timely manner and proceed with accepting a trade."

"I’m eager to refocus and dive back into what I love most: playing football," she concluded.

Reports of Sanchez's trade request first surfaced on ESPN last week, and were later confirmed by multiple sources. 

In December of last year, Sanchez signed a three-year contract with the Dash valued at $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. It was the largest contract in NWSL history at the time — a figure that would be eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

Sanchez spent the offseason as a restricted free agent, meaning that Houston could match any other team's offer to retain her rights. Should the Dash trade Sanchez, her current contract terms would remain intact, limiting potential buyers to teams able to afford to take on an inking of that size.

The Dash has yet to address the trade, instead reiterating to ESPN that Sanchez is "under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close tonight, April 19th, at 12 a.m. ET. The window will stay closed through the next 11 regular season games, reopening on August 1st, 2024.

Seattle Storm debut state-of-the-art $64 million practice facility

Jewell Loyd #24 of the Seattle Storm during warms up during practice on July 11, 2020 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida
Jewell Loyd, seen here practicing at Florida's IMG Academy, and her team are in for a major upgrade this season. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The four-time league champion Seattle Storm unveiled their new practice facility on Thursday, with Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel dubbing Interbay's Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance the team’s "new home."

"It's just such a special space," Brummel told Fox 13 Seattle. "I think when the players get here, it's gonna be overwhelming."

The sprawling 50,000-square-foot, $64 million property is just the second designated practice facility to be designed and built expressly for a WNBA team, with the Storm further noting that 85% of all design and engineering team members involved in the project's construction were women and people of color. The finished product holds two professional indoor courts, two 3x3 outdoor courts, a state-of-the-art locker room, and players' lounge, plus designated areas for strength and conditioning, kitchen, dining, and nutrition, and recovery. 

"This facility reflects our commitment to providing our athletes an exceptional environment that supports their growth, health, and performance," said Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder in an official team release. "It’s built for women, by women, embodying our dedication to leading the way in professional women’s sports."

For their part, the team can't wait to make the faciilty their own.

"It's amazing," Storm guard Jewell Loyd told Fox 13. "Not having to drive everywhere around, knowing you have access anytime of the day to get into the gym, to workout." 

Head coach Noelle Quinn said she predicts the team is "never going to leave this building."

"Which is a good thing for me," she continued. "You talk about having an edge in performance. We want our athletes to not only perform on the court, but get whatever they need."

All of the Storm's staff and operations will now live under one roof, and the team also has plans to launch a youth basketball program operating out of the building.

Mystics relocate game to accommodate Caitlin Clark fans

Maya Caldwell, Erica Wheeler, and Lexie Hull of the Indiana Fever celebrate Caitlin Clark
Get ready — Caitlin Clark is coming to town. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Caitlin Clark effect is quickly making its mark on the big leagues, as WNBA host teams around the country rush to upgrade their Fever games to larger arenas in order to accommodate surging ticket sales.

With Clark mere weeks away from her Indiana Fever debut, both the Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics have officially relocated their scheduled home games with head coach Christie Sides' squad. On Thursday, the Mystics became the latest to adjust their plans, moving their June 7th matchup from Entertainment & Sports Arena in Southwest DC to the more centrally located — and much larger — Capital One Arena "due to unprecedented demand."

The Mystics home court's capacity taps out at 4,200, while Capital One Arena — home to the Wizards, Capitals, and Georgetown Hoya's Men's Basketball — can fit nearly five times that crowd at some 20,000 spectators.

"The move to Capital One Arena will allow for additional fans in the stands as well as premium hospitality options, including Suites and the all-new all-inclusive courtside Hennessy Lofts," the team announced via Thursday's press release.

The Aces were one of the first teams to switch venues, aiming to take on the Indiana Fever in front of as many as 20,000 fans inside T-Mobile Arena on July 2nd. That’s a sizable a boost from their home venue, which holds just 12,000.

For those still planning to face the Fever in their home arenas, ticket prices have skyrocketed. Previously scheduled construction has already forced the LA Sparks to relocate their first five games — including their May 24th clash with the Fever — to Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid. The temporary venue is quite the downsize, holding just 4,000 in comparison to Crypto.com Arena's near-19,000. As of Friday, the get-in price for that game started around $400.

Despite fans launching a Change.org petition urging relocation, the Chicago Sky say they're unable to move their June 23rd Fever meeting from Wintrust Arena's 10,000-seat facility to the 23,500-seat United Center due to a concert. Tickets for that game start around $325 as of Friday.

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