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World Champion Cassidy Gale on Meteoric Rise and Wakesurfing’s Future

Woman surfing/ JWS
Woman surfing/ JWS

Cassidy Gale is a two-time wakesurfing world champion. Just 20 years old, the Michigan native is currently in pursuit of her third world title. She spoke with JWS about her path to success and where she wants to go in the future. 

How did you first get into wakesurfing?

I started wakeboarding when I was seven. That was kind of around the time when wakesurfing was just starting. And I tried it, but I was too small. So then I waited a few years and I tried again when I was turning 10. I just did it for fun and I eventually started learning more tricks and stuff. I entered my first competition when I was 15, and from there, I realized that I really liked the competitive side of it. And so I started learning more tricks and setting more goals to learn more and more tricks.

Was anybody in your family like, hey, let’s go try this? 

My older brother and my dad would do it. That’s kind of why I wanted to start it, because I watched my older brother do it. I was like, Oh, I want to do that, too. I grew up on a lake in the summers, so we would do every water sport we could.

Did you have any other role models in your sport? 

Yeah, when I first started I really looked up to Ashley Kidd, who is still the number one. She was one that I would always watch her videos and try to learn everything that she’s learning. And now we’re competitors. It was definitely surreal when I first turned pro, when I went from watching all those people to being in the same division as them. But it was really cool when I was first starting out.

What does it mean to be a professional wakesurfer in terms of training, competition, and sponsorship?

For me, because I live in Michigan, I obviously can’t train all year round. I think a lot of other pros live in Texas, or Florida, or Georgia, places that they can surf at least nine months out of the year. I have to go down to Florida at the end of February through May so that I can practice for the season, because the season starts in April. It’s definitely a lot of practice. When I’m in Florida in the winter, I’ll try to ride about an hour, every day. And then the same within the summer. That’s harder with competing and traveling, but I try to ride like an hour every day.

My main sponsors are Malibu boats and Tommy’s boats, so that’s a boat dealer and a boat company. For most companies that want to sponsor you, they want you to be at a professional level, or just right below it. Sponsors will support you with products and some of them give you incentives. But most of them want you to be almost at a pro level if it’s a bigger company.

You were a freshman in college when you won your first World Championship. Since then, have you balanced school and competition? 

It’s definitely not easy. Starting my junior year of high school, I started going down to Florida in the winter. So in high school, I would do online, and then college I’ve pretty much only done part time. I’m now a sophomore, only studying part time, because I’m really just focusing on training. But it’s definitely a balance. I mean, I’m sure there’s some people that can do it, but it’s just a lot harder when you’re a full time student and you have to surf for an hour a day and work out and travel.

How has COVID impacted your sport and your training?

For training it hasn’t impacted it too much. For competing, almost all of our competitions were online this year. Which is completely different. Mentally, it’s completely different from competing in person. There have always been online competitions but this year it was forced. If you wanted to compete you had to do them online.

I found that super frustrating because how it works is you could film it as many times as you want but your video had to be 45 seconds from the time that you threw the rope. You can do as many tricks as you want, but I found that so frustrating because I could never get it perfect. When you go to a competition you only have one shot and it is what it is, but I found for online, submitting your own video, it took me 300 tries to just get something that I was okay with. But it was definitely a whole different experience this year.

Besides COVID, what is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome so far in your career?

I would say competing in general. I would get really nervous when I first started competing, to the point where I could barely even surf well. I’d surf really well in practice and then once I started competing, I would just get so nervous, and I would choke and I wouldn’t end up riding well. I think that that’s probably the biggest thing that I’ve had to overcome. Just learning over the years how to mentally handle competing and handle the nerves and be able to ride under the pressure.

What really helped me over the years to get over the nerves is just being more confident in my riding. So practicing my specific run, over and over and over, to the point where I was just like, Okay, well, I know I can do it. I’ve done it at home. I can do it here.

You’re already very accomplished, and you’re still really young. What are your goals for the future, both on the water and off?

I think for wakesurfing, it’s obviously to get another world title. That’s probably the biggest goal. Off the water, it still kind of has to do with wakesurfing. I definitely have goals to work with sponsorships with bigger companies. In the future, I want to build enough relationships where I can work at one of those companies or have it translate into another aspect of my life where I’m more working a job versus just being an athlete that is sponsored by them.

How do we get more young girls into wakesurfing?

I think getting them into the sport is so important because I know that wakeboarding is really common. It’s well known, but wakesurfing is fairly new. So I think just getting it more out there and having more people become aware of it, we’ll then get girls into it. I’ve always wanted to do a camp for girls, like a wakesurf camp for girls. It hasn’t happened yet, but that’s always been something that I’ve really wanted to do, whether it’s here in Michigan, or it’s in Florida, or I start up other little camps around the country. That’s definitely something that I think is really necessary to get girls into it.

Cameron Brink likes Caitlin Clark for 2024 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Brink poses with Caitlin Clark at 2024 wnba draft in new york
Cameron Brink poses with fellow draftee — and possible WNBA ROY —Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Emily Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cameron Brink already has her rookie of the year pick for the upcoming WNBA season, and it’s Indiana-bound star Caitlin Clark

In the latest edition of Kelley on the Street, host Kelley O'Hara caught up with Brink in New York hours before the Stanford phenom went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks at the 2024 WNBA Draft. When O’Hara asked who would win the WNBA's rookie of the year, she answered without pause.

"Caitlin Clark," she said, while a fan commented that she thought Brink would take home the award. Brink later added that the extra foul granted to WNBA players will be "good for me."

"I hope it’s me," Charisma Osborne, who was later drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, said when asked her ROY prediction. "But, I don’t know — we’ll see."

Watch more of Kelley on the Street:

Dash winger Maria Sanchez confirms trade request a day shy of NWSL deadline

María Sanchez of Houston Dash during a NWSL game
In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the club worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Maria Sanchez issued a statement on Thursday, confirming recent reports that she has requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

In it, she revealed that the club has been aware of the request "since late March."

"This has all taken a toll and isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but I want to confirm that I’ve requested an immediate trade," she wrote. "My expectations and reasons have been clear. I trust that my current club’s management will honor my decision in a timely manner and proceed with accepting a trade."

"I’m eager to refocus and dive back into what I love most: playing football," she concluded.

Reports of Sanchez's trade request first surfaced on ESPN last week, and were later confirmed by multiple sources. 

In December of last year, Sanchez signed a three-year contract with the Dash valued at $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. It was the largest contract in NWSL history at the time — a figure that would be eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

Sanchez spent the offseason as a restricted free agent, meaning that Houston could match any other team's offer to retain her rights. Should the Dash trade Sanchez, her current contract terms would remain intact, limiting potential buyers to teams able to afford to take on an inking of that size.

The Dash has yet to address the trade, instead reiterating to ESPN that Sanchez is "under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close tonight, April 19th, at 12 a.m. ET. The window will stay closed through the next 11 regular season games, reopening on August 1st, 2024.

Seattle Storm debut state-of-the-art $64 million practice facility

Jewell Loyd #24 of the Seattle Storm during warms up during practice on July 11, 2020 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida
Jewell Loyd, seen here practicing at Florida's IMG Academy, and her team are in for a major upgrade this season. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The four-time league champion Seattle Storm unveiled their new practice facility on Thursday, with Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel dubbing Interbay's Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance the team’s "new home."

"It's just such a special space," Brummel told Fox 13 Seattle. "I think when the players get here, it's gonna be overwhelming."

The sprawling 50,000-square-foot, $64 million property is just the second designated practice facility to be designed and built expressly for a WNBA team, with the Storm further noting that 85% of all design and engineering team members involved in the project's construction were women and people of color. The finished product holds two professional indoor courts, two 3x3 outdoor courts, a state-of-the-art locker room, and players' lounge, plus designated areas for strength and conditioning, kitchen, dining, and nutrition, and recovery. 

"This facility reflects our commitment to providing our athletes an exceptional environment that supports their growth, health, and performance," said Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder in an official team release. "It’s built for women, by women, embodying our dedication to leading the way in professional women’s sports."

For their part, the team can't wait to make the faciilty their own.

"It's amazing," Storm guard Jewell Loyd told Fox 13. "Not having to drive everywhere around, knowing you have access anytime of the day to get into the gym, to workout." 

Head coach Noelle Quinn said she predicts the team is "never going to leave this building."

"Which is a good thing for me," she continued. "You talk about having an edge in performance. We want our athletes to not only perform on the court, but get whatever they need."

All of the Storm's staff and operations will now live under one roof, and the team also has plans to launch a youth basketball program operating out of the building.

Mystics relocate game to accommodate Caitlin Clark fans

Maya Caldwell, Erica Wheeler, and Lexie Hull of the Indiana Fever celebrate Caitlin Clark
Get ready — Caitlin Clark is coming to town. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Caitlin Clark effect is quickly making its mark on the big leagues, as WNBA host teams around the country rush to upgrade their Fever games to larger arenas in order to accommodate surging ticket sales.

With Clark mere weeks away from her Indiana Fever debut, both the Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics have officially relocated their scheduled home games with head coach Christie Sides' squad. On Thursday, the Mystics became the latest to adjust their plans, moving their June 7th matchup from Entertainment & Sports Arena in Southwest DC to the more centrally located — and much larger — Capital One Arena "due to unprecedented demand."

The Mystics home court's capacity taps out at 4,200, while Capital One Arena — home to the Wizards, Capitals, and Georgetown Hoya's Men's Basketball — can fit nearly five times that crowd at some 20,000 spectators.

"The move to Capital One Arena will allow for additional fans in the stands as well as premium hospitality options, including Suites and the all-new all-inclusive courtside Hennessy Lofts," the team announced via Thursday's press release.

The Aces were one of the first teams to switch venues, aiming to take on the Indiana Fever in front of as many as 20,000 fans inside T-Mobile Arena on July 2nd. That’s a sizable a boost from their home venue, which holds just 12,000.

For those still planning to face the Fever in their home arenas, ticket prices have skyrocketed. Previously scheduled construction has already forced the LA Sparks to relocate their first five games — including their May 24th clash with the Fever — to Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid. The temporary venue is quite the downsize, holding just 4,000 in comparison to Arena's near-19,000. As of Friday, the get-in price for that game started around $400.

Despite fans launching a petition urging relocation, the Chicago Sky say they're unable to move their June 23rd Fever meeting from Wintrust Arena's 10,000-seat facility to the 23,500-seat United Center due to a concert. Tickets for that game start around $325 as of Friday.

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