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Just Women’s Sports raises $3.5 Million In Seed Funding

JWS | Women's Sport Coverage

Investors include Will Ventures, Thirty Five Ventures, Drive by DraftKings, and Women’s Sports Superstars Elena Delle Donne, Hilary Knight, Sam Mewis, Kelley O’Hara and Arike Ogunbowale

May 10, 2021 – Just Women’s Sports, the fastest growing media platform for women’s sports, today announced it has raised $3.5 million in seed funding, capitalizing on an explosion of interest and investment in women’s sports. The round was led by Will Ventures with participation from Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman’s Thirty Five Ventures, Drive by DraftKings, OVO Fund, Supernode Global as well as an all-star roster of women’s sports superstars including Elena Delle Donne, Hilary Knight, Sam Mewis, Kelley O’Hara and Arike Ogunbowale. Launched in 2020 by CEO and Founder Haley Rosen, Just Women’s Sports provides news and analysis of women’s sports through exclusive interviews, podcasts, videos and other media content, and has quickly grown a passionate audience of fans, followers and listeners.

“The audience for women’s sports is both massive and growing, despite a lack of investment in consistent, high-quality coverage,” said Rosen. “For women’s sports to take the next step, the games have to be more accessible and there also needs to be more content around the games, including news, highlights, analysis, and storytelling. Even when they can find a game to watch, fans of women’s sports are too often left wondering who they’re watching and what’s at stake. Just Women’s Sports is here to change that.”

In addition to a significant investment, Thirty Five Ventures will utilize its network and resources to help grow Just Women’s Sports, including amplification across its Boardroom media network.  Rosen will also be a featured guest on Boardroom’s “Out of Office” podcast with Rich Kleiman and Kevin Durant.

“In order to grow women’s sports, fans need to see how great the games are, and they shouldn’t have to look hard to do that,” said Thirty Five Ventures co-founder and two-time NBA champion Kevin Durant. “Just Women’s Sports is creating a much-needed platform centered around game and player highlights and analysis that shows fans exactly how good these players are and why they’re worth watching.”

“We’re excited about this investment in Just Women’s Sports not only because we recognize the huge opportunity for growth in the space, but because Haley is exactly the kind of founder we want to be in business with,” added Rich Kleiman. “She uniquely understands what’s missing in the conversations around women’s sports, and she’s also building her business with incredible knowledge and foresight.”

In addition to its Just Women’s Sports podcast hosted by USWNT star Kelley O’Hara, Just Women’s Sports recently launched Snacks, a podcast co-hosted by USWNT stars Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams, Off the Ball featuring Olympian and NWSL star Ali Riley, and The Soccer Show, a first-of-its-kind digital weekly highlights-driven show covering the FA Women’s Super League (FA WSL) through an exclusive premium content partnership with Ata Football. In addition, beginning May 27, Just Women’s Sports will feature Tea with A & Phee, the popular podcast hosted by 2020 WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson and 2019 WNBA Rookie of the Year Napheesa Collier.

“It’s hard to believe that the founders of ESPN struggled to convince investors that a 24/7 sports network was a major opportunity. We expect to look back at the opportunity in women’s sports and feel the same way,” said Brian Reilly, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Will Ventures. “There’s nearly a 50/50 gender split when it comes to sports participation, but only ~4% of coverage is dedicated to women’s sports. That gap represents a venture-scale opportunity, and we’re confident that Just Women’s Sports is uniquely positioned to seize it.”

“I’m so excited for what Haley is building with Just Women’s Sports. I believe in her and her vision for this company and platform,” said WNBA champion and two-time WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne. “We know fans of women’s sports are an underserved audience, and there’s a huge opportunity for growth. The fact that this is the first female-led media company that is fully VC funded is amazing. I’m beyond thrilled to be part of what they’re doing.”

“Despite growing conversations and interest in women’s sports, media coverage is still lagging way behind, which leaves a massively undervalued and untapped industry ripe for growth, support and opportunity,” said Meredith McPherron, Drive by DraftKings CEO and Managing Partner. “Just Women’s Sports has taken an early leadership role in promoting equality in sports and bringing visibility to the exciting success and stories behind exceptional female athletes. We’re so pleased to have them join our portfolio.”

This funding will enable Just Women’s Sports to expand its production of high-quality content featuring the biggest stars in women’s sports, as well as continue building out its executive team, production and editorial staff. Recent hires have included former Google and Uber Eats exec Ali Braverman as Head of Revenue, former ESPN producer Ashley Braband as Head of Content and Production, and former The Athletic editor Hannah Withiam as Managing Editor.

MEDIA CONTACTS

Just Women’s Sports: Jeff Heckelman, 631-312-7327, [email protected]

Will Ventures: Kirby Porter, [email protected]

Thirty Five Ventures: Jessica Sciacchitano, [email protected]

About Just Women’s Sports Inc.

Established in 2020, Just Women’s Sports Inc. is a digital-first consumer media brand 100% dedicated to covering women’s sports. Through daily content including podcasts, newsletters, online content and social media, Just Women’s Sports brings you everything you need to see and know in the world of women’s sports. Find Just Women’s Sports online, subscribe to our newsletter, and follow us on InstagramTikTokTwitter and YouTube.

Esme Morgan Signs With Washington Spirit

Esme Morgan of England inspects the pitch prior to the UEFA Women's EURO 2025 qualifying match between England and France
The England national will join the Spirit in DC on July 15th. (Naomi Baker - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

English defender Esme Morgan has signed with the Washington Spirit, the club announced Thursday. 

Morgan had been with WSL side Manchester City since 2017, with one year remaining on her contract. She’ll now make a move to the NWSL, with City receiving a fee for the move. 

"I wanted to join the Spirit because they have the ambition and tools to be the best team in the NWSL, and trying to achieve that will be a great but enjoyable challenge," Morgan said in a club statement.

"On an individual level too, the opportunity to work under Jonatan [Giráldez], one of the world's best coaches, is really exciting and I look forward to learning from him and pushing myself to become the best player I can be, hopefully helping the team to success."

According to ESPN, Morgan’s lack of playing time under City manager Gareth Taylor played a key role in her decision to leave the league championship runners-up. She’ll join the Spirit in Washington, DC on July 15th, but won’t be able to begin play until August. 

Spirit president Mark Krikorian called Morgan an "exceptional talent" and added that the club is "thrilled" to add her to the roster.

"I think she’s pretty talented," Giraldez told reporters on Friday. "A young player with a great future, but with experience already in a great league and with the national team. She’s been surrounded by great players and also great coaches, so she can give us experience."

Ledecky Goes for 4 at Olympic Swimming Trials

Swimmer katie ledecky swimming at Toyota US Open
Decorated swimmer Katie Ledecky is aiming to make her fourth-straight Olympic squad. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

The US Olympic Swimming Trials begin this weekend, running from June 15th through June 23rd in Indianapolis, with Katie Ledecky eyeing her fourth-straight Summer Games.

While traditionally held in Omaha, Indiana's Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, has been fitted with a 50-meter pool to host the meet that will determine the 2024 Paris Olympics roster.

All eyes will be on seven-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky, who will be competing in the 200-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter, and 1500-meter freestyle — all events in which she’s been an Olympic champion. 

Rival Ariarne Titmus had her trials last week, breaking the world record in the 200-meter freestyle. Ledecky’s 200 is intended to qualify her for the Olympic relay. Meanwhile stateside, Katie Grimes stands to be a challenger in the 1500-meter freestyle has already qualified for the Paris Olympics in the 10km open water event.

Other competitors of note include 47-year-old Gabrielle Rose, who stands to become the oldest US Swimming Olympic qualifier in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke.

Additionally, Kate Douglass — an NCAA and World Champion — is a favorite to make her first Olympic team in the 200-meter IM and 200-meter breaststroke. Simone Manuel, an Olympic champion in the 100-meter freestyle, is also looking to make her third-straight Olympics.

Where to watch: The Trials will be streaming all week on Peacock, with later qualifying heats airing live on USA Network and event finals airing in primetime on NBC.

Orlando and Kansas City Shoot for 13 in NWSL Weekend Action

NWSL's T. Chawinga #6 of the Kansas City Current passes the ball during the first half of their game against the Utah Royals FC
The Kansas City Current hopes to extend its NWSL unbeaten streak to 13 with a win over Chicago. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

The 13th match weekend is fast approaching in the NWSL, with two season-long unbeaten streaks on the line.

League-leaders Kansas City and Orlando will attempt to survive the weekend with their unbeaten runs intact, as the Current host Chicago on Friday and the Pride travel to North Carolina for Saturday's match.

But while Kansas City and Orlando have been the gold standard this year, they're still a number of wins away from tying Washington's record for longest unbeaten streak in a single NWSL season. In 2021, the Spirit went 20 games without a loss en route to the club's first NWSL championship.

Both Gotham and Louisville are carrying momentum into their matchup on Saturday. Louisville is unbeaten in three games, and they’re looking to finally leapfrog Chicago and claim sixth place in the league standings. Gotham, on a seven-game unbeaten run, is into fifth place.

Portland and Seattle will face off in the Cascadia Clash this weekend, with Golden Boot contender Sophia Smith absent, as the decorated forward was shown a red card last weekend for time-wasting on the bench.

The Reign could use a win against their long-time rivals, as a difficult start has 13th-place Seattle registering only two wins amid nine losses so far this season.

Elsewhere in the league, 2024 expansion teams Bay FC and Utah meet for the first time this weekend, as both look to rise from the bottom half of the standings. And Washington will ride a four-game winning streak into Saturday's game against a San Diego side that's earned two hard-fought draws in recent weeks.

Watch more: "Sophia Smith is INNOCENT!" on The Late Sub with Claire Watkins

WNBA All-Star Voting Starts on June 13th

Phoenix Mercury mascot Scorch waving a 2024 WNBA All-Star flag at a 2023 home game.
Phoenix Mercury will host the 20th-annual All-Star Game on July 20th, 2024. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Voting for the 2024 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game opened at 2 PM ET today and runs through June 29th.

All active WNBA players are eligible to make the All-Star Game, set for July 20th in Phoenix. Unlike previous formats that featured two voted-in All-Star squads, this year’s contest pits a single All-Star team against the already-decided Olympic-bound USA Women’s National Team.

Fans can submit a daily ballot nominating up to 10 athletes via WNBA.com or the WNBA App.

Fan-submitted ballots account for 50% of vote, with the other 50% split equally between current WNBA players and members of the media. The top 10 athletes will automatically make the All-Star Game, with league coaches then voting from a pool of the next 36 to complete Team WNBA’s 12-player roster. The final lineup will be announced on July 2nd.

This year's All-Star Game format presents an opportunity for fans to vote for players they might consider Olympic snubs. Indiana rookie Caitlin Clark and Dallas’s Arike Ogunbawole seem like shoo-ins given the discussion surrounding their Olympic omissions, while Connecticut stars Brionna Jones and DeWanna Bonner are also expected to snag All-Star nods.

And after a career-high 20-point, 10-rebound double-double in last night’s 83-75 loss to the Sun, Chicago rookie Angel Reese could also secure a spot.

Regardless, it won't necessarily be smooth sailing for Team USA, as history has tended to favor the underdog. 

The first USA vs. All-Stars matchup took place in 2021, with the league’s squad humbling the Tokyo Olympians 93-85. With 26 points, Ogunbawole was named All-Star Game MVP after barely missing the Olympic cut. Could she and Clark turn the tables on Team USA this year?

Watch more: "Were Caitlin Clark and Arike Ogunbowale snubbed?" by Expert Adjacent

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