Athletes Unlimited Adds Lacrosse As Its Third Sport

Kayla Treanor, who competed for the US National Team in 2017, headlines 22 women’s lacrosse players that will compete in the first-ever Athletes Unlimited league next summer. (PHOTO COURTESY: U.S. Lacrosse/The Daily Gazette)

By Matt Noonan

Athletes Unlimited is growing.

And yesterday – Tuesday, October 20, to be exact – Athletes Unlimited, which has attracted a slew of elite and professional female athletes over the past few months to compete in its softball and indoor volleyball leagues, announced they will be adding a women’s lacrosse league with the inaugural season set to begin next July.

The league, according to yesterday’s release on its website, will commence after the 2021 World Cup which is scheduled to take place in Towson, Maryland next year from Wednesday, July 7 to Saturday, July 17.

“Women’s lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States and incredibly popular among young players and fans,” said Jon Patricof, who is the CEO and Co-Founder of Athletes Unlimited, via yesterday’s release. “Our leagues are all about excitement, storytelling, and fan engagement so lacrosse is the perfect addition to our network of pro sports leagues which already includes softball and indoor volleyball.”

The 2021 Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse league will be extremely innovated, featuring eight minute quarters, 9-on-9 gameplay, and a 60-second shot clock. 56 players will play in this league, which will feature four teams of 14 players. Additionally, each session will begin with a draw.

As of today, 22 female lacrosse players have committed to the initial season, including Kayla Treanor, who is played at Syracuse University and was a member of the 2017 US National Team, which captured the gold medal at the World Cup.

Michele “DJ” Dejuliis, who was the original CEO and Founder of the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League (WPLL), will oversee the league as a Senior Director of Lacrosse for Athletes Unlimited.

To learn more about Athletes Unlimited, visit their website, as well as stay connected with them on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube).

NCAA D-III Reduces Number Of Games Required For Championship Selection

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NCAA D-III Football teams will only need to compete in five games this season to be eligible for the postseason. (PHOTO COURTESY: Visualunt.com)

By Matt Noonan

The upcoming NCAA D-III sports season will look a bit different than usual due to the ongoing pandemic, which brought an end to multiple winter championships in March, along with numerous spring sports seasons.

Yesterday the Division III Administrative Committee approved the recommendation from the Division III Membership and Championships Committee to allow its various members to compete in fewer contests than usual this upcoming school year – 33 percent less than normal, to be exact – so they can be eligible to contend for a national title.

The reduction of contests will allow each institution to remain in compliance to compete for a championship but also provide flexibility for athletic departments when it comes to scheduling to “seeking relief in the form of waivers.”

“We hope that a reduction in contest minimums will provide flexibility to our member schools as they work to reopen during what is a very uncertain and complex time,” said Tori Murden McClure, the chair of the committee and Spalding president, in Friday’s release. “We understand this won’t fix everything for everyone, but we believe it is the right move at this time and we will remain flexible moving forward.”

The flexibility will certainly help schools when it comes to reopening – it is possible some schools could start earlier or later like a slew of Division I institutions announced this month, including Notre Dame and Syracuse University.

Football teams, including those here in New England, would only need to compete in five contests this fall to be eligible to compete in the NCAA D-III postseason while basketball teams will need to play 12 contests.

As of now, it appears fall championships will occur, but those plans could be altered due to the coronavirus (Covid-19).

Noontime Commentary: Early Thoughts On The Upcoming Fall Sports Season

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The upcoming fall sports season could look a bit different than past years. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan

Last Friday, we received some insight from NCAA president Mark Emmert about what fans and followers of college athletics should expect for the upcoming fall sports season. And it doesn’t sound like business as usual due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Speaking with host Andy Katz on the NCAA’s Twitter handle, Emmert announced that sporting events and games will not occur without students on campus. He also emphasized that some teams could compete immediately while others may not be able to, especially if campuses remain closed and classes are held virtually.

And just for those keeping track at home, I paraphrased “immediately” – he did not say that word!  

The thought of seeing some teams compete in late August or early September is something I believe could happen. But which schools will be able to roll out the footballs and soccer balls at the end of the summer is a mystery.

Could we see the University of Alabama or the University of Texas at Austin compete right away or will both institutions have to delay the start of their respective fall sports season?

What about schools in California, Washington, or even Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island? Will they be able to play some games in late September or early October?

Could we see schools reopen in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, but not in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island? And would those schools be able to play games?

Should we expect fans on campus every Saturday to cheer on the Syracuse University football team?

Will, there be supporters at future Penn State University field hockey or soccer games?

These questions – and of course, others – are just a few on my mind, but the other thought percolating in my head is about scheduling. Could we see current games eliminated and new contests scheduled? I think so.

As much as I would love to say all games that are currently scheduled will happen would be hard to justify. Sure, many would love to circle the date for some must-see, must-follow contests later this year, especially a few local rivalries such as Harvard University vs. Yale University in football.

Additionally, I do anticipate some conferences (and leagues) will have to play each other more than once – maybe twice or three times? – especially if only a handful of schools are open in late August and early September.

And how about this thought: could we see some Division II teams playing against Division III squads, especially in the northeast? It would be fascinating to see (and watch) Assumption College square-off against WPI, but I don’t think that would happen.

Luckily, it is only May and we do have some time before the 2020 college sports season begins. But I do expect some announcements to occur about the future of fall sports in the coming weeks.

It is great to hear – and learn – about various schools planning to reopen (or be open) this fall, but with so much uncertainty these days, it just seems unlikely that college sports will look the same as they did in previous years come September and October.

Here’s hoping – and yes, some positive thoughts and vibes – but no matter who plays, we look forward to providing our audience with some coverage remotely.

Noontime’s Sunday Sports Movies

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By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

It’s a rainy Sunday, which means many of us, including myself, will be searching for a good movie to watch – maybe two (or three)?

And some of us, like myself, may want to watch a sports movie since there are no live games on television due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

So, with many of us searching for a new or old movie to watch this morning or afternoon, here are some suggestions from Noontime Sports, enjoy!

42. Hands down, this is one of my favorite baseball movies. I actually watched this film last weekend – it fills your baseball void, I swear!

Travel back to the late 1940s to learn about Jackie Robinson‘s first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers, which saw the Blue and White win the National League and advance to the 1947 World Series against the New York Yankees.

The Express. Sticking the historical theme – I majored in American Studies, so I love history! – jump back in time with your football and shoulder pads to learn about Ernie Davis, who was the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy.

Davis, who is played by Rob Brown, is recruited to play college football at Syracuse University by both head coach Ben Schwartzwalder (Dennis Quaid) and Jim Brown, who is one of the greatest halfbacks in the National Football League (NFL).

Miracle. So, I am currently reading Mike Eruzione‘s The Making of a Miracle, which means I will probably watch this movie once I finish. And if you are craving some hockey with the National Hockey League (NHL) at a standstill, then consider cheering on the 1980 U.S.A. men’s team, which defeated both the Soviet Union and Finland to win the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.

The Replacements. Alright, let’s switch gears from historical movies to a comedy.

Gene Hackman inherits a team of replacements during a professional football strike that needs to win three of its final four contests to reach the playoffs. And for the team to reach the postseason, Hackman will need quarterback Shane Falco, who is played by Keanu Reeves, to guide his offense.

Space Jam. Missing basketball, especially the Boston Celtics, then consider rooting for the Tune Squad, which is made up of some of your favorite Looney Tunes characters, as well as … Michael Jordan.

61*. Director Billy Crystal, who happens to be a die-hard New York Yankees fan, takes you back to 1961 when both Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle begin their respective quests to break Babe Ruth‘s 1927 single-season home run record.

Draft Day. We’re 25 days away from the 2020 NFL Draft, so get ready to celebrate your team’s initial pick by seeing who the Cleveland Browns will select in the 2014 Draft. Kevin Costner, who is the team’s general manager, seems to know his team needs a bit more than newly acquired head coach Denis Leary.

Additional movies to watch:

  • Moneyball (baseball)
  • The Blind Side (football)
  • Invictus (rugby)
  • Glory Road (basketball)
  • Coach Carter (basketball)
  • Million Dollar Baby (boxing)
  • Cinderella Man (boxing)
  • Remember the Titans (football)
  • Slap Shot (hockey)
  • A League of Their Own (baseball)
  • Hoosiers (basketball)
  • Bull Durham (baseball)
  • The Mighty Ducks (hockey)
  • Rudy (football)
  • The Sandlot (baseball)
  • Eight Men Out (baseball)
  • Field of Dreams (baseball)
  • Happy Gilmore (golf)

As always, be well, stay safe, and think optimistically, friends – we will continue to get through this time and we’ll be back soon with some new content! 

Noontime’s Boston Sports Notebook: Will Tom Brady Return?

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By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

It’s been just four days since the New England Patriots season concluded, but the setback to the Tennesse Titans doesn’t seem to be on the mind of many these days.

Instead, the biggest issue surrounding our beloved football team is the future of quarterback Tom Brady – will he really leave Boston as a free agent and sign with the Dallas CowboysLas Vegas Raiders or Los Angeles Chargers? Or will he stay in New England for one or two more seasons?

The speculation began quickly after the final whistle sounded last Saturday evening at Gillette Stadium as various reporters pressed the long-time signal-caller on his future with the team. Brady didn’t seem interested in discussing future plans. Instead, it appeared as if he wanted to go home and fall asleep. He also didn’t seem interested in reflecting on the entire 2019 season, too, which saw New England win eight-straight contests.

Will or will not, Tom Brady, return to New England will remain at the forefront of social media, blogs, websites, and media outlets going forward. But I have a hunch that Brady returns next season and concludes his career with the Patriots, not another team.

Watching Brady play for the Cowboys or Raiders would just seem strange in my opinion – I, along with other New England fans, would have a hard time seeing the six-time Super Bowl champion donning a different uniform.

I don’t know Brady – I have never covered any of his games, but have enjoyed watching him as both a fan and season ticket holder, and believe he will stick around the area and finish his impressive career as a Patriot, not a Cowboy or Charger. But for Brady to remain with the organization, New England is going to need to acquire some additional pieces on the offensive end so they can compete for a seventh championship next fall.

Brady, who just didn’t seem to have fun this season, needs help. And he certainly knows he can’t win games going forward with just Julian Edelman and James White. He needs receivers and tight ends that are accustomed to winning, but also those that are willing to commit to the process (also known as the ‘Patriot Way.’).

We’re still weeks (and months) away from finding out where Brady is headed, but again, I just have a feeling – yes, a feeling – that he returns for one or two more seasons and leads New England to their seventh (and maybe eighth) Super Bowl.

If Brady wins seven or eight Super Bowls then it will be really hard to say he is not the greatest ever to play football, right?

Noontime’s Quick Thoughts on some Boston sports news (and notes): 

  • The Boston Celtics have been really impressive and fun to watch this season – I think this team is destined for a deep postseason run.

    But after observing some of their previous starts against the Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards, all I can say is the following: they need to play good basketball wire-to-wire, but also not allow mediocre teams dictate the pace of play following the opening tip.

    The Green and White host San Antonio this evening – the Spurs are currently eighth in the Western Conference – and should certainly provide the Celtics with a good test. But a win over the Spurs this evening followed by a victory tomorrow against the Philadelphia 76ers is a must for a team that didn’t play their best basketball against the Hawks and Wizards. Sure, they beat Atlanta (and the Chicago Bulls one night later), but if I am Brad Stevens, my message would be the following: we dictate the pace of play, not our opponent.

  • Could Alex Cora get suspended for 81 games or the entire 2020 season due to the latest report of the Boston Red Sox stealing signs during their 2018 World Series run?

    I think it is possible – do others?

    This is a bad look for the local nine that did not qualify for the postseason last year and has seemed to take a backseat to bolstering their roster this offseason, so they can compete with some of the best in the American League this season, including the New York Yankees.

  • In case you missed it, the Boston College men’s basketball team scored an impressive (and exciting) win last night over 18th ranked Virginia – hope Bob Whitney enjoyed watching this particular game.

    The win bumps the Eagles record to 9-6 overall and should provide the Maroon and Gold with momentum heading into upcoming contests against Georgia Tech and Syracuse University.

    Duke University remains the top team in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) while the Eagles sit two spots below the Blue Devils with a 3-1 league record.


Stay connected with our Noontime Nation Boston Sports coverage on Twitter by following @NS_Boston