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Toni Pressley Discusses Special Tribute Bra, Breast Cancer Journey

Soccer player Toni Pressley/ JWs
Soccer player Toni Pressley/ JWs

Toni Pressley is a defender for the Orlando Pride of the NWSL and a breast cancer survivor. As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Toni has partnered with Chestee to create a limited-edition sports bra which benefits Libby’s Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation. 

JWS spoke with Toni and Nicole Biscuiti, Chestee’s Founder and CEO, about Toni’s journey, their collaboration together, and what they’re doing to raise awareness this October. 

You can shop the new Toni Tribute Bra from Chestee here.


For those that don’t know, do you want to give a quick summary of your story, from when you were diagnosed until today? 

Our team nutritionist came in to speak to us about her experience with breast cancer, and she reminded us to be regular with our physical checkups. At the time I was already kind of feeling different in my body. I was noticing a small lump, tenderness, and soreness. I made an appointment with my gynecologist and asked if I could please get a mammogram, because at that point I just needed to know and get a peace of mind either way.

After a month and a half or so going through different appointments last season — doing the mammogram, a biopsy, doing an MRI — it was determined that I had breast cancer. At the time, it was considered non-invasive. But because it was in my milk ducts, I needed a mastectomy.

The day that I found out, there were still some games left in the season. It was tricky to schedule my surgery, quit training, and tell everyone. One of the hardest parts was telling my coaching staff and my teammates that I have breast cancer, need to get surgery, and wasn’t sure when I’d be back. It was pretty emotional.

After my surgery, I ended up having my final diagnosis of stage one breast cancer. They did find a small amount of invasive cancer. I needed to focus on recovery, but since I didn’t need chemo or radiation it could happen pretty quickly.

I soon asked myself: “Okay. Well, how do I get back on the field as quickly as possible and in the safest way possible?” About two weeks later, I was at training again on the sidelines, which was nice because, as an athlete, it was torture being told not to do anything. And then, maybe a month later, I was able to rejoin team training.

At our final game, which happened to be a breast cancer awareness game, I was able to get in  as a sub, which was surreal. I didn’t know joining a game would even present itself as an opportunity that season.

My doctors did such a great job of making me feel comfortable removing the cancer and helping me monitor my path right now with medication. My reconstructive surgeon kind of guided me through the whole process. They all gave me a peace of mind. It was helpful to know I was cared for and doing the right things. I don’t think I was too stressed. In addition, the club and our strength and conditioning coach helped me return to fitness after recovery.

It has been almost a year since you returned to play after your diagnosis of breast cancer and your surgery. Can you put into words how your life has changed in the last 18 months or so?

The biggest change for me is more mental rather than physical. For example, I don’t really waste opportunities, or take things or people for granted. I know that can sound so cliche, but I think this has become more important for me.

How do you think that mental shift has impacted your soccer career?

I try to remain in the moment as much as possible and try not to think too much about the future. While setting goals for the future is important, I find that I tend to forget about the present moment and make the most of being present with people.

At the end of the day, I know playing soccer is a job. We’re all here to perform, do our best, and do well. That’s why we’re paid to be here. But I also don’t want to miss out on other opportunities that soccer provides us. When you’re always trying, always looking to perform towards something, and looking forward to future games, I think we can kind of get lost and not really focus on what we’re doing in the moment.

Do you feel obligated to now share your experience on the chance it could lead someone to make that trip to the doctor? 

I definitely have a platform to use to help people to be more aware of their bodies, themselves, and the importance of their health. Going to the doctor regularly, sooner rather than later, is always important. For breast cancer, we’re not really told to go get a mammogram until you’re 40, but women in their 20s are getting diagnosed. It’s important we make more people aware and educated that “hey, it can happen to anyone.”

You are doing an awesome collaboration with Chestee for Breast Cancer Awareness month. Where did the idea come from to work with Chestee on a custom bra?

I really liked the work that Chestee was doing. And when I brought up the idea of collaborating to Nicole, she was very open to it. She’s so well established in the athletic world and doing so well with her company and its great products. I just wanted to jump on board and see if we could help at least one person in any way we could. She was willing to collaborate and make this special edition bra with proceeds going towards a nonprofit. I’m so fortunate that she was willing to be a part of that.

You had the chance to design your own Chestee top. What was that experience like? 

It was awesome. It’s a swim top as well. I really liked this design and I was like, “Hey, what do you think about making this bra a neutral color? Like a black or a white or something. And then the tie in the back could be pink, like a breast cancer ribbon.” I’m excited to see the final product out in the world.

You’re giving your portion of the profits to the Libby’s Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation. Can you talk a little bit about the foundation and why you chose to donate there?

Libby’s Legacy is wonderful because they absolutely advocate for anyone who needs help in getting doctor’s appointments or support with medical expenses. I chose them because they’re helping real people in real time. You never want someone to not be able to get the care they need because they can’t afford it, they don’t know the right things to say to doctors, or they don’t have people advocating and guiding them with this whole process, which is scary.


Can you just give a quick introduction of Chestee and how the product and company came about?

I’ve been an athlete almost my entire life really. Growing up, I was always outside playing. I was that kid who you had to hose off in the driveway before coming into the house for dinner, because I would just track mud everywhere from playing with my hands and my feet in dirt. In college, I played basketball as a walk-on. I was a runner, and I also started weight-training while I was doing all those team sports. After college, I found CrossFit and ended up being pretty decent at it, so I started competing at a pretty high level.

It was at an event called Wodapalooza (W-O-D for “workout of the day”) where I came up with the concept of the Chestee. I was doing a workout using a 145 pound barbell, which at the time was my body weight. It was very heavy, and the barbell was sitting in the Miami sun outdoors. As soon as my skin touched the barbell, I literally contact-burned myself a bit.

I took my shirt off and stuck it into the straps of my sports bra in the front, kind of like a backward cape, to create a barrier between my skin and the barbell. That was my aha moment.

The following week I went into the gym and I took a pair of compression knee sleeves, cut them in half, and sewed them into a rash guard that’s used for surfing, which was the tightest, most form-fitting shirt that I could get my hands on at the moment. That was the first unofficial prototype of the Chestee. I wore it for a couple of front squats and it felt really good. The barbell landed on my neck and like it was landing on pillows.

But that unofficial prototype was really ugly. It wasn’t something I’d be proud of. I started talking to everyone I knew who was in the garment industry — seamstresses, people who worked at manufacturers, fashion designers,  people who produced fashion shows — and tried to get it to the right place. That process took years. But we’re here today. It’s pretty awesome.

How did you first get connected with Toni and what made you guys interested in doing a collaboration with her?

I’ve always been into soccer and female athletes. Through a mutual contact, I ended up finding Toni’s social media page and started following her. I liked what she stood for. It was very clear she was a strong, resilient, and interesting woman. She’s super accomplished yet very humble.

I reached out one day and said, “Hey, I love what you’re doing. I’d love to send you a Chestee. This is my product. This is what it does. Let me know what you think.” And she was like, “Cool, great.”  She posted about the package.

She told me later she really liked the product but she didn’t necessarily find a need for the collarbone protection all the time in her sport. The conversation then shifted to the design and how she visualized the design for female soccer players.

Ultimately, the conversation went to “Well, how would you like to do your own line?” Our first real project is this Chestee that she designed. We took a core item and redesigned it so it would be more approachable for any athlete, regardless if they train with a barbell or not. To give a nod to Breast Cancer Awareness and Libby’s Legacy, she wanted to make all the accent colors this bright fuchsia.

What has made working with Toni different than other athletes you’ve worked with?

Toni isn’t about Toni: She is about helping everybody out. It’s a quality you don’t encounter every day, and particularly not what you always encounter from an elite athlete. She’s strong but gentle. She knows what she stands for but not aggressive. She’s really collaborative.

When we were talking about Libby’s Legacy, she asked me how it would work and how we could best support the cause. When we finally discussed the profit sharing model with her, she said, “Oh, I don’t want anything for doing this. Actually, if it’s okay with you, would you be willing to take the portion of the proceeds that you would normally give me and give it to the charity instead?” At that moment I literally got goosebumps. I said, “Absolutely. We can do that. Yes.” And at that moment, I just thought, “Wow, I hope I get to work with her for a really long time, because this isn’t a everyday thing where you meet people like this.”

What are your hopes for this collaboration in terms of spreading awareness during Breast Cancer Awareness month?

Toni and I both want to support women. We are telling the story of a female athlete and a cancer survivor who hasn’t been out of this for very long. We also want to spotlight Libby’s Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation, which is a small, grassroots, and tightly-run organization that needs and can use every single dollar very wisely.

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.'"

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