All Scores

Christen Press praises Angel City FC for commitment to gender equity

Christen Press presented the Angel City FC co-founders with an award at the Grassroot Soccer’s World AIDS Day Gala. (Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Angel City FC star Christen Press praised the NWSL team Thursday night as she presented an award to the co-founders for their commitment to gender equity in sports.

The 33-year-old forward, who became the first player to sign with the expansion club in 2021, helped to celebrate Angel City FC at Grassroot Soccer’s World AIDS Day Gala in New York.

“In its first year as a professional club, Angel City FC became one of the most successful business models in sports,” Press said. “All of this, because Angel City believes in a diverse, equitable and fair future for women and all people and they built a community that believes the same.”

Angel City FC co-founder and president Julie Uhrman accepted the Grassroot Soccer Game-Changer Award, which recognizes those who have demonstrated “extraordinary leadership in driving real and meaningful social change.” Her fellow co-founders Natalie Portman and Kara Nortman were also honored.

The presentation came during Grassroot Soccer’s 20th anniversary celebration. Throughout its 20 years in existence, Grassroot Soccer has helped to bring live-saving health information, services and mentorship to more than 18 million young people in over 60 countries. Grassroot Soccer raises over $1 million each year through the gala.

“Winners of the award are equity champions, passionate advocates, movement builders and unifiers who bring different stakeholders together to work toward a common goal,” Press said. “Angel City and Grassroots Soccer have shared values: We leverage soccer for social impact. Angel City is a women’s professional soccer club in Los Angeles that pursues goals that are bigger than soccer.”

In its first year as a club, Angel City FC sold out four home games, as well as 16,000 season tickets. The team also sold out a game against OL Reign on the same day that Juventus played a sold-out game against Real Madrid at the Rose Bowl.

“We have proof that if you lead with purpose, if you lead with your values you can build a community that’s different and will show up for you no matter who else is playing down the street,” Uhrman said during her acceptance speech.

Originally, Uhrman admitted, she and her co-founders didn’t strive to build a soccer club at all. They simply wanted to build something bigger than the game following the USWNT’s 2019 World Cup win.

The three co-founders wanted to drive equity and make an impact on the sport. Ultimately, Angel City FC was formed with a majority-female ownership group with a goal to make women’s soccer more accessible.

“After the women had won the World Cup in 2019 and we felt like there was an incredible wave that we could ride,” Uhrman said. “We could use football as a platform to drive for equity and impact and build an organization where mission and capital could co-exist where we never had to decide whether we wanted to do something good or make money, but recognize the importance of doing both at the same time.”

ACFC has shown up in their community in a number of ways, including creating a first-of-its-kind sponsorship model that drives revenue back into the community. Through that model, ACFC has generated more than $1 million to put back into the community.

They’ve also helped more than 70 different women become coaches and donated food through their partnership with Sprouts Farmers Market.

“This goes beyond just soccer,” Uhrman said. “We want to make sure that we have a positive impact in LA and ultimately grow that beyond. And we do that by building community. We’ve been intentional about building a community that is diverse and inclusive. That is representative of LA and we live our values every single day with our community.”

And ACFC doesn’t want to just make an impact domestically. They want to take their brand across the world.

“If we are global, we can draw more attention and awareness to the impact we are building,” Uhrman said. “We can draw more attention to these incredible women athletes who deserve the same attention, the same dollars, the same sponsorship as men. And we can put women on an even playing field. Because we believe getting to equity is possible and that is something that we focus and work on every single day.

“Our purpose and vision is global and we’re gonna use our platform unapologetically to tell the world that women are as good as men. We’re gonna drive to equity and we’re gonna make a difference every single step of the way.”

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.'"

Start your morning off right with Just Women’s Sports’ free, 5x-a-week newsletter.