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Lauren Barnes’ Eco-Friendly Gift Guide

Lauren Barnes is a defender for OL Reign of the NWSL. A two-time NWSL Best XI selection and the 2016 NWSL Defender of the Year, Lauren is also a proud sustainability activist. During the 2020 Challenge Cup, she led an effort to make the bubble experience plastic-free, and she will be continuing this work in the 2021 NWSL regular season with a player-led sustainability initiative.

Below, she walks us through the eco-friendly brands she’ll be shopping this holiday season.


JAS IT UP

One of my favorite people and OL Reign’s very own Jasmyne Spencer is behind this great company. Jas It Up is a sustainable lifestyle brand offering a range of clothes and accessories, all made from eco-friendly and recycled materials. The focus is on “designs that emphasize versatility and longevity for long-lasting clothes that never go out of style.”

Use code JWS15 for a holiday discount.


NORDIC OIL

I recently started working with this great company and am so excited to include them on this list. Nordic Oil has a great line of CBD products, and this winter they made the decision to invest a portion of their profits into cleaning our oceans. They’ve teamed up with the ReSea Project, a Danish organization committed to cleaning up the oceans and reducing the negative impact of human activity on the natural environment. For any of your friends or family who are fans of CBD, I highly recommend checking this company out 🙂

Learn more about Nordic Oil here.


NUZEST

As an athlete, my nutritional intake is always top of mind. With Nuzest, the nutritional value is clear and the company prioritizes sustainable methods. They are a plant-based nutritional supplement company that works exclusively with a supplier that uses no chemicals in the production process of their supplements. Plus, all waste from production is turned into biofuel and animal food, and all of their products are packaged in HDPE, one of the world’s most recyclable plastics. You even have the option to make your order 100% carbon neutral when purchasing through their website.

Hit this link for a sweet holiday discount.


JLAB

This company really sets the bar on ways that audio companies can be sustainable. They made a commitment to ditching plastic in their packaging and have done it through an eco-friendly case. Even the box the case arrives in is completely recyclable. They’ve also eliminated metal foil printing, switched to using durable paper pulp hang tag instead of plastic, and have even spearheaded a recycle program for recycling any electronics.

Use code ‘Lauren15’ for a holiday discount 🙂


CRAZYCAP

Clean water shouldn’t be a luxury. That’s CrazyCap’s mantra and they follow through on it. Their water bottles eliminate the need for plastic water bottles completely and includes a water purification system within the cap that sanitizes unclean water to make it safe to drink. If you ask me, everyone should be drinking water from these bottles.

Tap water is unsafe in 25 countries. Globally, 200 billion plastic bottles are discarded each year. Make the change to a bottle like this one. You won’t regret it.

Learn more about CrazyCap here.


ALBATROSS

Albatross is on a mission to eliminate plastic from shaving with their high-polished stainless steel razors. And they take it one step further than that. With their Take Back program, you can mail your used razor back so that it can be recycled and turned into another useful, environmentally-friendly product, such as a stainless steel utensil set. Their Take Back program helps reduce stainless steel production energy by up to 67% and CO2 emissions by roughly 70%.

Learn more about Albatross here.


DENTAL LACE

Yes, even floss contributes to the plastic pollution disaster we’re all living in. But thanks to companies like Dental Lace, you can floss plastic-free. Their floss is a 99% zero waste, refillable and eco-friendly. You can choose from silk or plant-based vegan floss (both are biodegradable!). And it comes with refills all packaged in an eco-friendly way 🙂

Use code ‘NWSL’ for a sweet 10% discount for the holidays.


LUNCHSKINS

I recently discovered this company and am so glad I did. For the past 12+ years, Lunchskins products have replaced 2.8 billion plastic bags with Lunchskins bags while helping to keep over 2.6 million plastic straws out of our landfills. They’re on a mission to eliminate single-used plastic and are making it easy and affordable for all of us to do it with them.

Learn more about Lunchskins here.

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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