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Why Jewell Loyd backs a crypto future for the WNBA

(Joshua Huston/NBAE via Getty Images)

When Coinbase became the official crypto platform of the WNBA last October, most teams and athletes had a lot to learn about the company’s products and services. Coinbase partnered with the WNBA Players Association to provide draft invitees with financial training and open accounts for all 144 players in an effort to bring crypto to the fingertips of women and fans across the country.

For Jewell Loyd, the landscape wasn’t new. The Seattle Storm guard and four-time WNBA All-Star has been active in the crypto economy for years.

“Investments in other things like real estate along with crypto is something I’ve been doing since around 2013 with my brother,” Loyd said.

Loyd is not your typical 28-year-old investor. While growing up in Illinois, Loyd learned about the stock market from her grandfather and other mentors, and she received a crash course on the economy through a program at her middle school.

“They taught us how to apply for jobs, how to pay taxes, what taxes are. You even had to pay for your desk. Everything you would have to pay for in real life, you had to pay for in school,” she recalled.

“They were teaching us how to save money. You could pick up two or three jobs, just to see how real-life works. At the end of the year, you would say ‘How come I only have 20 bucks? How come this person had a dollar? How come this person has $500?’ They basically broke things down, what it means to make a dollar and how to invest.”

At Niles West High School, where Loyd scored over 3,000 points as a four-year starter on the basketball team, she also took investment classes. She and a partner would be tasked with checking the market online, trading stocks and explaining their investment choices to the class.

“It was engraved in us in school,” she said.

So, when Coinbase signed on as a partner of the WNBA in 2021, Loyd jumped at the opportunity to be an ambassador and take part of her salary in crypto.

While Loyd is at the forefront of using her platform to set an example in crypto investing, fans may be yearning to learn more about the service from more of their favorite WNBA superstars.

A peer-to-peer financial system, crypto allows individuals to exchange funds directly through the internet, loosening many of the restrictions of traditional finance and banking systems. Now you can buy, sell, trade and stake your assets with just a few clicks.

Loyd, who plays both overseas and in the U.S. like many WNBA players, is a fan of the financial freedom crypto offers her.

“If I go into a bank, I want to open an account, and there’s all this paperwork and stuff to do. And then if you take this specific money out, you get fined. What? It’s my money,” Loyd said. “Now, I go on Coinbase, I get my money out. It shouldn’t be that complicated to get your money. You have so many loopholes with certain banks. In my mind, that doesn’t make sense.

“It’s freedom, understanding and probably a little bit of love. I feel I get all three of those things using crypto.”

Loyd feels fortunate that she had a background in investing when she entered the WNBA in 2015 as Seattle’s first overall draft pick. She remembers sitting through a meeting on draft day, when a league rep walked the players through their retirement funds but didn’t spend much time teaching them how to invest.

She’s sensed a different mentality in the year since the WNBA partnered with Coinbase, as more players take initiative with their long-term financial strategy. Loyd’s former Storm teammate, Sue Bird, has been one of the leading voices of other products and services crypto has to offer. Through Coinbase, investors can not only buy and sell cryptocurrencies, but they can also exchange NFTs and store crypto in their own personal wallets, among other things.

“I think with this last year,” Loyd said, “people are trying to learn and understand this since this is the way things are going and people don’t want to be passed by.”

“We think the future of money is here with crypto,” said Jessica Williams, Coinbase’s Director of Brand Partnerships & Experiential. “Coinbase will continue to focus on our suite of products and platform, which are all tools that currently over 100M people use daily to buy, sell and manage crypto.”

Loyd has found confidence in crypto through experience. She’s hopeful that even more WNBA players will get there, too, now that the league and teams like Seattle are offering educational programs and tools to participate.

“As you’re investing, you’re also learning,” she said. “Being educated in what you’re investing in helps a lot and I want to see more, whether it’s the rookies coming in and getting a quick Coinbase lesson from the start. As rookies, we only learned about the investments of retirement.”

In recent months, the rapid rise of cryptocurrency has led to economic volatility and skepticism among the public. Loyd doesn’t see this as an issue, but rather a chance for her to help usher in a new financial tool and leave a permanent mark on the global market.

“I think a lot of people, especially women, are nervous about it. They don’t know what it is,” Loyd said. “For me, I’ve gone into meetings and people ask, ‘Oh, you know about crypto?’ Yeah, I’m a woman and an athlete and I know about crypto. It’s a cool thing for women to understand what it is, to sit in these seats in sports leagues and have another edge to them. Not just, ‘I’m here because they put me here,’ but ‘I can talk the language and know what’s going on.’”

For Loyd, whose own financial background is rooted in family and community, crypto is about more than monetary gains. It’s also a source of equality and other values she believes in at her core.

“Coinbase is meant for everybody. It’s hard to find something in the world that’s for everybody,” Loyd said. “Having the ability to teach this, to help people understand this, you are educating them, but also giving them something they can use for the rest of their lives. That’s impactful to me. This world isn’t equal, but this allows money, understanding and finances to be equal.”

Daniel Newton is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports.

KC Current GM Camille Ashton Resigns

KC Current GM Camille Ashton
Former KC Current GM Camille Ashton left the undefeated organization early this week. (Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

Kansas City Current general manager Camille Ashton has resigned, the club announced Wednesday.

The staffing shakeup comes as somewhat of a surprise after the Current started off the season undefeated under new head coach Vlatko Andonovski, sitting second in the NWSL standings through 10 games.

No further details were given about her departure, other than that the club "wishes her the best in her future endeavors."

"I am thankful for my time in Kansas City," Ashton said in a team statement. "It was important to me to dedicate my time and efforts to ensure a successful 2024 season by building the championship-caliber roster that's currently near the top of the table. I am proud of what we have accomplished here. I look forward to the next step in my personal and professional journey."

Ashton, who played in the league from 2014-17, helped rebuild the Current roster, including picking up then-free agent Debinha in 2023 — the biggest free agency signing of that offseason. This past offseason, she brought in international players Temwa Chawinga and Bia Zaneratto

But the club has also encountered some rough patches throughout Ashton's tenure. Following her daughter's dismissal from the Current last year, mother of 2023 draft pick Mykiaa Minniss also accused the club of mistreatment during the preseason. While both the league and NWSL Players Association looked into the comments, no formal reprimand or consequences were publicly issued.

Players like Lynn Williams, Alex Loera, and Cece Kizer voiced concerns over what they described as unexpected trades, with Kizer adding that there was "no conversation this could happen." Williams, meanwhile, was informed of her trade moments prior to its execution while she was in New Zealand with the USWNT.

"There could be a lot of debate about that on its own, but at the end of the day, that’s the mechanism that we work with right now in the league," Ashton told reporters earlier this year when quested about the Current's player trade procedures.

While the club made an NWSL championship appearance in 2022 — the year Ashton came on as general manager — the 2023 season kicked off with the team firing head coach Matt Potter just three games into the season and hours before a road game. 

At the time, the club cited "issues around his leadership and employment responsibilities" as the reasoning, though players were reportedly confused with the decision making.

Last October, the Current hired former UWSNT coach Vlatko Andonovski as head coach, in addition to giving him the title of "sporting director." Whether or not that role overlapped with Ashton’s responsibilities as general manager was cause for some speculation.

NWSL Honors UWSNT Great Lauren Holiday With Impact Award

Lauren Holiday at nwsl impact award event
USWNT legend Lauren Holiday has long been involved with social activism off the pitch. (NWSL)

The NWSL announced today that the annual civically focused Nationwide Community Impact Award would now be known as the Lauren Holiday Award in honor of the National Soccer Hall of Famer.

Since 2021, the award has recognized one NWSL player each season for their character and contributions to community service off the pitch, according to a league release. The winner of the newly retitled award receives $30,000 toward a charitable organization of their choice.

"The NWSL is proud to honor Lauren Holiday as the namesake of this award recognizing exemplary athletes and their commitment to service and activism," said NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman. "Lauren’s influential work in the community and her outstanding character both on and off the field epitomize the values we look to uphold and celebrate in the NWSL every day. 

"I can think of no one more deserving of this recognition than Lauren and look forward to seeing the continued positive impact this program has on our clubs and communities with her example guiding our efforts."

In a statement, Holiday said that throughout her career she has always "believed in the power of giving back and creating positive change." A two-time Olympic gold medalist, World Cup winner, and former NWSL MVP, Holiday founded the Jrue & Lauren Holiday Social Impact Fund alongside husband and fellow professional athlete JRue Holiday.

The fund contributes to programs that combat systemic racism and socioeconomic inequality. Holiday has also long been an advocate for legislation to help close the racial inequality gap in maternal health.

"This award is a testament to the important work that athletes are doing to strengthen and uplift their communities every day and I am deeply humbled to take on its namesake," Holiday said. "I hope it inspires others to continue their efforts in making a lasting impact on the lives of those around them."

Waylaid Seattle Rookie Nika Mühl Makes WNBA Debut

seattle storm's nika muhl guarding indiana fever's caitlin clark
Mühl spent her first few pro minutes repeating her college assignment: guarding Caitlin Clark.(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Seattle rookie Nika Mühl made her long awaited WNBA debut in last night’s 85-83 win over Indiana after missing the first four games of the season due to visa issues. 

A Croatian national, Mühl had been waiting on P-1 visa approval in order to work legally in the US. While the paperwork came through Friday, she had to travel to Canada in order to get her status changed.

The former UConn star poked fun at the delay ahead of the game, walking into Climate Pledge Arena wearing a t-shirt displaying her approved visa.

Mühl checked into the game on Monday in the third period to a standing ovation, immediately diving over the baseline to save a loose ball. She spent her first few minutes of the game the same way she completed her career at UConn: guarding Caitlin Clark

Mühl, who had two rebounds in two and a half minutes, held Clark to five points, a rebound, and a turnover when the two were matched up. 

"I threw her in the fire," Storm coach Noelle Quinn said with a smile after the game. "It’s tough to come into the game at that rate and think that you’re going to stop the player, but I like… her physicality, her poise, her confidence. She took an open shot and I thought that was a great look for her. We’ll continue to put her in the mix in practice, and she’ll have opportunities to show what she can do on the defensive end to start."

An instant fan favorite, the UConn star donned the No. 1 jersey — in part because her usual No. 10 was retired by Seattle after Sue Bird, who wore it for her entire WNBA career, retired last year. Mühl's new number was chosen by none other than Bird herself. 

"I actually FaceTimed Sue and asked her what number I should wear. She took a day to think about it and came back to me with an answer of No. 1," Muhl said in a WNBA video posted to social media. "When I asked her why No. 1, she basically said 'This is a new beginning, but you’re not starting from scratch.' I loved that whole analogy and story, so Sue actually picked it and I love it."

WNBA Confirms Toronto Expansion Team for 2026

Fans at a game between the Chicago Sky and the Minnesota Lynx in Toronto
Canadian fans asked and the WNBA delivered: Toronto's getting a team. (Jordan Jones/NBAE via Getty Images)

The WNBA is officially expanding to Toronto, with the league announcing its 14th franchise early Thursday. 

Kilmer Sports Ventures has been awarded the team, said WNBA commissioner Cathy Englebert at a press conference attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, and others. 

"Growing internationally, I’ve been trying to think through next steps on a global platform," Engelbert told the Associated Press ahead of the official announcement. "It helps us reach new audiences and bring in new partners. The thing I love about going to another country is that the young girls and boys get to see professional basketball for women is important, too."

The CBC was the first to report on the expansion franchise back on May 10th. 

With the Golden State Valkyries set to begin play next year, the Toronto franchise will begin play in 2026. The goal, per the WNBA, is to then add two more franchises by 2028 for a total of 16. 

Toronto will play at Coca-Cola Coliseum, which holds 8,700 seats. On occasion, the team will play games in Scotiabank Arena. The WNBA has previously hosted sold-out preseason games at Scotiabank Arena and Edmonton’s Rogers Place. There are also plans to play games in Vancouver and Montreal, according to majority owner Larry Tanenbaum. 

This will be the first WNBA franchise outside of the United States, and joins PWHL Toronto as just the second professional women’s sports team in the city.

"Our Toronto sports franchises are thriving but, we have been missing one critical piece — women’s professional sports," Tanenbaum told the AP. "The world is finally taking notice of something that’s been there all along — the immense talent, passion and competition in women’s sports. 

"I saw an opportunity and knew we were in the right place at the right time to bring Canada’s first WNBA team to Toronto. And now we have, making sports history."

Similar to Golden State, the Toronto franchise paid a $50 million expansion fee. They’ve also committed to building a dedicated practice facility, but will train at the University of Toronto’s Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport in the meantime. 

"Women’s sports is good business," Tanenbaum said. "Just look around — it’s not a moment, but a movement and it’s just the beginning."

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