Dec 22, 2021 - Sports

Scoop: Athletes Unlimited adds volleyball star Cassidy Lichtman to board

Illustration of a cupped hand with a softball, volleyball, basketball, and lacrosse stick elevating above.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Athletes Unlimited — a network of women's sports leagues that launched in 2020 with softball and has since added volleyball, lacrosse and basketball — just upped the ante on player empowerment.

Driving the news: Volleyball star Cassidy Lichtman is joining the Athletes Unlimited board of directors, Axios has learned. This makes her the first active athlete to serve on a pro sports league's board.

  • Lichtman, a standout for Stanford and Team USA, competed in Athletes Unlimited's inaugural 2021 volleyball season and will play in Season 2, starting March 16.
  • She will serve a one-year term as the board's athlete representative, a seat that will be voted on by the players going forward.
  • Former USTA president Katrina Adams has also been added to the board, joining co-founders Jon Patricof, Jonathan Soros and Salil Seshadri.

What they're saying: "When Athletes Unlimited says they are an athlete-led organization, they mean it," says Lichtman.

  • "As a player and a member of the Player Executive Committee for volleyball, I have been able to experience what it means to genuinely have a seat at the table."
  • "It is incredibly empowering as an athlete, particularly a female athlete, and has really opened my eyes to what the relationship between athletes and a league can look like."

The big picture: Volleyball is one of the most popular girls high school sports. Now, the largest professional league in the U.S. has an active female athlete on its board, helping shape the sport's present and future.

Coming soon ... Athletes Unlimited's new basketball league launches next month, with a handful of WNBA players set to compete.

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