Former Husker Jordan Larson headlines new U.S. indoor volleyball league
Athletes Unlimited Volleyball, the only professional women’s indoor volleyball league in the United States, will launch in February 2021.
From: USA Volleyball
Athletes Unlimited on Wednesday announced expanded plans to reinvent professional sports with the launch of an indoor women’s volleyball league and creation of an all-star advisory board. The new volleyball league will follow the same innovative model of competition the company unveiled when it announced its inaugural softball league in March.
Athletes Unlimited Volleyball, the only professional women’s indoor volleyball league in the United States, will launch in February 2021. It is officially sanctioned by USA Volleyball, which will also be providing a wide range of strategic advisory services. The league will be located in one city with all matches played in one venue over the course of the season and will feature 48 of the world’s best players including members of the U.S. National Team, accomplished professional players and recent NCAA graduates.
Athletes Unlimited is proud to announce its first three signings are U.S. National Team members Jordan Larson, Foluke Akinradewo and Molly McCage. Larson and Akinradewo are both two-time Olympic medalists with the U.S. National Team. Larson has been twice named USA Volleyball Female Indoor Player of the Year and Akinradewo is widely regarded as one of the world’s best middle blockers. McCage, a former middle blocker for the U.S. National Team, is the University of Texas’ all-time block assist leader. All three players will join the Player Advisory Board of Athletes Unlimited Volleyball, a group that will determine which players are invited to join for season one and help set league rules and policies. In addition, Jordan will also serve on our Athletes Unlimited Advisory Board.
“We are excited to be partnering with USA Volleyball to expand our growing network of pro sports leagues and are thrilled that Jordan, Foluke and Molly are on board to help lead the effort in building our player-driven league,” Athletes Unlimited CEO and Co-Founder Jon Patricof said. “Volleyball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S. and it fits perfectly with our model of faster play, dynamic teams and next-level competition and engagement.”
Athletes Unlimited leagues will feature a range of innovations to bring athletes and fans a unique and intense version of the sport. Individual athletes earn points based on team wins and individual performance and become the champions in team sports. Points can be earned on every play and the leaderboard changes constantly. In addition, the teams will change each week, with the top four athletes in the standings serving as captains and drafting their teams.
“Giving our outstanding volleyball athletes an opportunity to play an indoor season in the United States will be a game-changer for our sport and our fans,” USA Volleyball CEO Jamie Davis said.
Athletes Unlimited also unveiled its Advisory Board comprised of high-profile contributors from sports, business and entertainment. Members include U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team icon Abby Wambach; two-time NBA champion and entrepreneur Kevin Durant; Thirty Five Ventures co-founder Rich Kleiman; Grand Slam champion and former world number one tennis star Caroline Wozniacki; ESPN broadcaster and four-time first-team All-American softball standout Jessica Mendoza; two-time Olympic medalist and captain of the USA Women’s National Volleyball team Jordan Larson; USA Volleyball Women’s National Team head coach Karch Kiraly; International Olympic Committee member and four-time Olympian Angela Ruggiero and former player and past President of the United States Tennis Association Katrina Adams. The Athletes Unlimited Advisory Board will offer strategic advice and help the organization maintain best practices as the property grows.
“Athletes Unlimited represents an innovative approach to professional sports that gives athletes unprecedented governance and affords them the opportunity to further grow their careers,” Mendoza said. “I hope to share my experiences as a former athlete and TV sports commentator to enhance our leagues for both our players and fans.”
“We couldn’t ask for a more impressive group of individuals to rely on for guidance and support. They have already been enormously valuable and their commitment to our mission is inspiring,” Co-Founder Jonathan Soros said.
The growth of Athletes Unlimited comes at a time when sporting events across the world are being cancelled or delayed. “We are well aware of the challenges that are ahead of us,” Patricof said, “but many of the innovations we had already developed – shorter seasons with all athletes in one location – are exactly the ideas other leagues are now looking at to compete during the pandemic.”
The compensation commitment is consistent with Athletes Unlimited’s move to upend the traditional ownership model in team sports and change the relationship between athletes and their leagues. Investors in the company will be capped in their financial return so that the athletes will earn more and more of the profits as the league succeeds, and athletes will participate in company governance. “Our athletes are pathbreakers who deserve to share in the long-term value they help create for the players that follow in their footsteps,” Soros said.