(L-R) Jordan Larson, Foluke Akinradewo and Alisha Glass celebrate at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 on Aug. 20, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Choosing captains to pick teams isn’t just for the schoolyard anymore.
It’s how each week of play will begin in Athletes Unlimited Volleyball, a new women’s indoor pro league announced Wednesday to begin play in February 2021. The league is a partnership between USA Volleyball and Athletes Unlimited, a company seeking to revolutionize the world of sports with faster play and focus on individual athletes.
Athletes Unlimited Volleyball is the only professional women’s indoor volleyball league in the U.S.
Already signed up with the league are U.S. national team members Foluke Akinradewo, Molly McCage and Jordan Larson. Akinradewo and Larson are two-time Olympic medalists. Other national teamers are expected to participate along with established pros and college athletes. In an Athletes Unlimited league, teams are the format of competition but it’s the individual athletes that earn the rewards.
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Players earn points through team wins and their individual performance, with constantly changing leaderboards. The players who perform the best will get to be captains and choose new rosters each week. League play will take place in one location for the entire season.
If that single-site model sounds familiar, it’s also what several other sports leagues including Major League Baseball have proposed as a way to resume play in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Athletes Unlimited CEO Jon Patricof acknowledged the pandemic presented an unknown challenge, but that such a model gave them the best chance for success.
Having already announced a softball league with a similar competition format last month, Athletes Unlimited seeks to expand its sports league offerings. Akinradewo, McCage and Larson will also become members of the Athletes Unlimited Player Advisory Board to help guide the organization. Other members of the board include Olympic champions Kevin Durant, Jessica Mendoza, Angela Ruggiero and Abby Wambach.
Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.