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Chloe Logarzo Knows the Matildas Are Almost There

Football players trying to take the ball/JWS
Football players trying to take the ball/JWS

Chloe Logarzo plays as a midfielder for both the Australian national team and Bristol City of the FA Women’s Super League. 

This is your first season playing in FAWSL. How has the experience been so far? 

It’s definitely been challenging. I think my thought process behind coming to Bristol was needing to get as many games as possible in before the Olympics. And obviously at the start of the year, which was the end of last season, everything kind of hit. So I guess my plans were kind of overturned. I wasn’t actually meant to be here for as long as I have been, but you know some things don’t always go to plan. I’ve just tried to take it one step at a time, but it’s definitely been challenging having the sort of the season that we had and being in England through lockdowns and being here for a lot longer than I thought I would be.

What led you to sign with Bristol city in particular? I know you mentioned just getting touches and more experience and play under your belt. But what about this team in particular?

So the coach is an Australian coach. She has actually watched me play in the W-League back home in Australia. It was just an easy transition for me to head from Australia into what I would say is a style that I would be comfortable with from an Australian coach.

I’m sure that’s made the transition on the field a little bit easier. 

Definitely. Tanya [Helen Oxtoby] has been over here for such a long time now, when I first had my first call with her, I actually had to ask her if she was Australian because the English accent was so strong. But yeah, I also came over because I knew it was going to be a challenge for me. I came knowing that the team was going to get relegated last year or in a position to get relegated. So I think for me personally, I thought it was an individual challenge for me to come over to a club and try and help them not get relegated.

And we were successful last year. I ended up coming over and we won one game before the lockdown happened and the season ended. And that was the crucial point that we needed to stay above getting relegated. And I think that’s still a challenge for me now. The club is doing all that it can, and I’m just working individually on myself and looking forward to the Olympics coming up next year. And I think that the players surrounding me are amazing people, and I’m lucky to have the people that I do around me.

How would you compare the playing style in FAWSL vs the NWSL? 

I would say that it’s definitely not as athletic. I think the NWSL is super athletic. Every single person is there at the highest level and competing with professional athletes on and off the field, and I commend the NWSL for that. Here I feel like it’s so brutal. Everyone is just out there and they’ll smash you. And sometimes it is about the physicality, where I think the physicality in the U.S. is different than over here.

It’s hard. It really is hard and there’s some incredible players. Lots of Man City and Chelsea players and such at the top, top level. But it’s definitely physical over here. And then I also think there’s a difference in terms of marking, where the NWSL is just so good. Here, you don’t really hear much about FAWSL games. I know the league is still growing, and this could probably be the best league in the world. It should be. But it’s still so far behind in terms of picking up the bottom half of the teams and pushing them to be better. There’s such a divide between the top and the bottom.

I know that Bristol City is closer to the bottom of the rankings currently. What do you think needs to happen to turn things around?

Yeah, I just think it’s been a difficult start for Bristol coming up against really good teams. For us it’s about just finding our stride and having confidence, especially after our first three games against some of the top teams and leaving those games feeling absolutely defeated.

Now it’s about how we pick ourselves up and work together as a team and collaborate to be able to play well against the middle rank and the bottom rank teams, so we can get confidence back in the girls and build from there. It’s just about belief for me.

I wanted to transition into talking about the national team. The Matildas [Australia’s national team] just hired Tony Gustavsson as the new head coach.What was your reaction to that hire and have you been in contact?

We are extremely excited to have a national team coach announced. We’ve waited a long time for this, and we’re excited to have someone that’s going to be there for a while for the upcoming Olympics and World Cup cycle. It’s been a long time since we’ve had consistency like this. And I think now having the World Cup at home, we’re just really excited to get the ball rolling and finally be able to get into our endeavors and get ready for the Olympics and get ready for that.

It’s been exciting. We’ve had one Zoom call, and it was nice, just a quick introduction. He told us to just stay focused on our seasons over here as we wait for a time when we can have a camp, which unfortunately we weren’t able to schedule during this last international window due to the current climate.

You mentioned Australia co-hosting the 2023 World Cup, but what does that mean to you and for the team?

For me, it’s exciting to be able to play any game in front of your friends and your family, and to make your country proud and to be able to host the World Cup. It’s something that I didn’t think in my lifetime, I’d be able to do at home. I think the Matildas are the most beloved team within Australia, male or female, so on a personal level, I can’t wait for 2023. And as a Matildas team, I think it’s been a long time coming, and it’s going to change the way that sports are perceived within Australia. And I hope that we are able to leave a legacy for young kids within Australia that want to strive to be the best that they can be, whether it’s on the field or off the field, or just being the best at life. Hopefully we are able to inspire just the next generation.

I’m sure also not having to travel is also going to be a huge advantage? 

Oh yeah, for sure. It’ll be interesting to see everyone come to Australia. I feel like we’ve gotten so used to flying everywhere that a 12, 24 hour flight seems quick. So it’ll be interesting to see how different teams adapt to flying and adapt to the culture that we have and the climate. I think it will be a great World Cup, honestly. I think Australia is the perfect place to host such an event and yeah, it’s going to be an amazing, amazing time.

That’s awesome. What do you think needs to happen to put the team in championship contention?

I think it’s what we’ve been doing over the last couple of years, honestly. It’s just a slow tug toward getting to the next level and onto the podium. We don’t like making excuses, but we’ve just had an unfortunate run with national team coaches and not being able to have a consistent lead going into a major tournament. Before our last World Cup, we had a new coach appointed, and then two years before that, before our last Olympic campaign, I’m pretty sure we had a new coach.

So it’s just before major tournaments we haven’t really been the most prepared leading into them. I think that we did as good as we possibly could, but I think that there’s one or two things or pieces missing from our puzzle that hopefully we’ll be able to get into place for this World Cup. And I think, honestly, we were so close up in France, and it was just so disheartening to lose on penalties again. But I think we’re so close. We can see it and we’re gripping it. We just need that final piece.

Lastly, what are your personal goals for this upcoming year? 

My personal goals are just to be consistent. I kind of say it all the time, but if I’m consistent in my own individual playing style, I think that would help me. But obviously with the Olympics coming up, I would like to be as ready as I possibly can. So, getting myself on the score sheet and getting myself on the fit and small goals like that.

Rose Lavelle hoping to return to play ‘in the next couple of weeks’

uswnt midfielder rose lavalle trains on a soccer field in florida
When healthy, Rose Lavelle is a trusted asset in the USWNT's midfield. (Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Rose Lavelle is hoping to return to the field soon. 

The 28-year-old midfielder has been sidelined with a lower leg injury since the Gold Cup in early march. Since then, she has yet to play for new club Gotham FC in the NWSL. She also missed a potential USWNT appearance at the SheBelieves Cup in April, where senior team newcomer Jaedyn Shaw saw success assuming Lavelle's role in the attacking midfield. 

At the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee media showcase on Monday, Lavelle told reporters that she’s doing well and hopes to be back soon.

"I’m doing good — I’m hoping I’ll be back in the next couple weeks," Lavelle said. "It’s frustrating to start the year off with an injury, just because I feel like you come off preseason and you’re revving to go, so it’s so annoying."

Lavelle is still looking to compete for one of just 18 Olympic roster spots. When healthy, she ranks as one of the national team’s most trusted assets, but considering this most recent injury, her health is an obvious concern. Faced with an onslaught of experienced competitors and young talent, incoming USWNT coach Emma Hayes will have some big decisions to make when selecting the Paris-bound squad — a reality Lavelle seems to be taking in stride as she works to regain full fitness.

"We have so many special players, we have so much depth, and so many different weapons to utilize on and off the bench," Lavelle said. "Unfortunately that means really good players are going to get left off, too. And I think for all of us, it’s just about being ready for whatever role is given to us, embracing that, and looking to put it into a collective picture so that we can go into the Olympics ready to go."

Kate Paye tapped to take VanDerveer’s place at Stanford

new stanford head coach kate paye spins a basketball on the court
Stanford associate head coach Kate Paye has officially been promoted to head women's basketball coach. (Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)

Stanford has found its replacement for legendary head women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer in associate head coach Kate Paye.

The Cardinal confirmed the hiring on Tuesday via a press release. Paye was largely expected to replace the longtime head coach, as the college mentioned they were still negotiating Paye's contract when they announced VanDerveer's retirement.

In Tuesday's statement, Paye reported that she was "humbled" to have been tapped to lead the women’s program.

"Stanford University has been a central part of my life for as long as I can remember and I am humbled to have the opportunity to lead its women’s basketball program," Paye said. "I’d first like to thank Tara, who has played such a pivotal role in my career for her friendship and guidance. It’s not what she’s done, but how she’s done it, that has had such a profound impact upon me."

A Woodside, California native, Paye played under VanDerveer from 1992 to 1995, taking home a national title her freshman year. After graduation, Paye briefly joined San Diego State as an assistant coach before making her professional debut with the ABL's Seattle Reign in 1996. After finishing her playing career with the WNBA's Seattle Storm, she joined the team’s coaching staff in 2007 and has been with the organization ever since, picking up another national title win — this time as associate head coach — in 2021. Paye's brother John played quarterback for Stanford from 1983 to 1986, while also serving as a point guard on the basketball team.

In her own response, VanDerveer said that she was "grateful" that Stanford picked Paye to follow in her stead. Last week, the decorated coach stated that this year would be her last after 38 seasons at the helm and three national titles under her belt.

"She has long been ready for this opportunity and is the perfect leader for Stanford at this time of immense change in college athletics," VanDerveer noted. "Kate was the choice for this job and I am confident she will achieve great success as head coach."

After a record-breaking Draft Night, WNBA roster cuts loom

2023 WNBA no. 1 draft pick Aliyah Boston playing for the indiana fever
Despite going No. 1 overall in the 2023 WNBA Draft, Aliyah Boston had to fight hard to make it onto Indiana's roster. (Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

The 2024 WNBA Draft has officially concluded, leaving the newly minted rookie class facing a tough road ahead.

Only 144 roster slots are available throughout the league’s 12 teams, the reason why the players are sometimes referred to as the “144.” And Monday’s draft picks are set to join a large group of established players competing for those same roster spots, from seasoned veterans to young athletes determined to prove their value on the court.

Last year, just 15 of the league’s 36 draftees made it onto their drafting team's opening-day squad.

In reality, there are oftentimes fewer than 144 spots available, as not every team maxes out their roster. Per the league's CBA, each team roster must maintain a minimum standard of 11 players, but those lists can include players out with injuries or on other forms of leave. Players can also be assigned to short-term hardship contracts, something waived players must be prepared for at any point during the season.

Earlier this week, Laeticia Amihere — a 2022 national champion with South Carolina who currently plays for the Atlanta Dream — took to TikTok to provide some insight into the WNBA training camp process. 

"You can either get drafted on Draft Night, or you can get signed by a team," she said. "Once that happens, you go to training camp literally like two weeks later... Basically everybody's got to try out. There's 12 roster spots, and there's like 18 people at the at the trial."

@laeticiaamihere Replying to @dantavius.washington #wnba #draft ♬ original sound - Laeticia Amihere

Amihere also had an important point to make: Getting cut does not signify a player’s abilities. 

"If you get cut after training camp, that does not mean you're not good," she said. "That does not mean that player sucks, don't stop supporting that player. Literally, there's so many reasons somebody can get cut."

"If you guys look at the best players in the league, most of them have bounced around teams," she added. "And I promise you it is not a bad thing, it's just how the league is."

Things, however gradually, are changing. With Golden State's WNBA team scheduled to launch in time for the 2025 season, league expansion is just around the corner. On Monday, Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced that the league is aiming to grow to 16 teams by 2028. But by then, it might be too little too late for the generation of talent emerging from an increasingly competitive NCAA system.

WNBA draft shatters records with 2.45 million viewers

wide shot of BAM during the 2024 WNBA Draft
It wasn't just attendees that were glued to the on-stage action at the 2024 WNBA Draft. (Photo by Melanie Fidler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Monday night’s WNBA draft added to the nationwide uptick in record-breaking women's sports viewership, pulling in 2.45 million viewers throughout the nearly two-hour broadcast and peaking at 3.09 million, according to an ESPN release. 

That number shatters the previous draft viewership record — 601,000 in 2004 — which was fueled primarily by then-No. 1 pick Diana Taurasi entering the league after UConn's historic three-peat March Madness performance.  

The 2023 WNBA draft drew 572,000 viewers, the most for any televised WNBA event since 2.74 million tuned in to NBC for a Memorial Day matchup between the New York Liberty and Houston Comets back in 2000.

While many came to watch Caitlin Clark get drafted No. 1 overall, it’s important to note that viewership didn’t take a massive dip after the superstar shooter left the stage. The numbers show that a bulk of the audience stuck around to watch the remainder of the show, making 2024's event not just the most-viewed WNBA draft in history, but also the most-viewed WNBA program to ever air on ESPN platforms.

Draft Day's popularity is yet another sign indicating an expected rise in WNBA regular season viewership. Clark and Iowa's NCAA tournament showdown with the Chicago Sky-bound Kamilla Cardoso's South Carolina side drew a record 18.7 million to ABC's Sunday afternoon broadcast. Banking on this trend, 36 of Indiana's upcoming 40 games are set to be shown on national television. In-person ticket sales are also soaring, leading the defending WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces to re-home their matchup with the Fever to a venue that can accommodate some 6,000 more fans.

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