Last Week around the Leagues
by Fran Stuchbury
January 24, 2023 - Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA)
This past week Ronnie Gajownik became the first woman to manage a High-A baseball team when she took the reins of the Northwest League's Hillsboro Hops, Charlotte FC defender Anton Walkes passed away at the age of 25 due to a boating accident, the Women's National Basketball Association announced it will play its first game in Canada, and the Las Vegas Desert Dogs won their first ever National Lacrosse League game. Highlights from this week come from the Northwest League, International League, Major League Soccer, Women's National Basketball Association, NBA G League, XFL, Indoor Football League, American Hockey League, ECHL, North American Hockey League, Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Premier Hockey Federation.
Ronnie Gajownik will be back in Hillsboro for the 2023 season, this time as manager. Gajownik was previously with the Hops in 2021 as the video coordinator. Gajownik (pronounced guh-JOW-nick) was on the coaching staff for the Amarillo Sod Poodles during the 2022 season, including duties as first base coach. Prior to joining the Arizona Diamondbacks in a player development role, she was an assistant at Liberty University and the University of Massachusetts. The infielder won a gold medal with USA Women's baseball at the 2015 Pan American Games. Gajownik graduated from University of South Florida in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary social science where she was a two-year starter on the softball team.
Hillsboro Hops hires first woman as manager, 2nd time in Minor League history
The New York Yankees have announced that Shelley Duncan has been named as the new manager for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Duncan re-joins the organization that drafted him and will lead the franchise that he won the International League MVP Award with in 2009. Duncan managed in the Arizona Diamondbacks system between 2015 and 2018, leading teams in Hillsboro, Visalia and Jackson. He led the Hops to the Northwest League title in 2015 and the Generals to the Southern League crown in 2018. Duncan's managerial record stands at 231-199 over four seasons. Since leaving the Diamondbacks organization, he has served as the Toronto Blue Jays Major League Field Coordinator and as an Analytics Coordinator for the Chicago White Sox.
Flashback to 2009: Watch our new manager, Shelley Duncan, go deep with the SWB Yankees during the season that he won the International League MVP Award.
The Buffalo Bisons mourn the passing of Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame member Ted Savage. Savage was elected as a member of the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016. He played one season with the Bisons, taking home the honor of International League Most Valuable Player in 1961 after hitting .325 and winning the IL's batting title in 149 games with Buffalo.
Major League Soccer
Charlotte Football Club can confirm the tragic and heartbreaking news that defender Anton Walkes passed away following an accident in South Florida. He was 25 years old. "Everyone at Tepper Sports & Entertainment is devastated by the tragic passing of Anton Walkes. He was a tremendous son, father, partner and teammate whose joyous approach to life touched everyone he met," said Owner David Tepper. "Anton made those around him better people in all areas of life and represented Charlotte FC to the highest standard both on and off the pitch. He will be greatly missed by many and our thoughts and prayers are with Anton's family during this heartbreaking time. The Club offers its full support to all those impacted during this period of mourning."
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission released a report into the boat/personal watercraft collision that killed professional soccer player Anton Walkes.
United Soccer League One
Union Omaha announced the hiring of Dominic Casciato as head coach. Casciato will look to lead the team to its fourth-straight USL League One playoff appearance after 12 years of coaching experience across multiple levels in both the United States and Europe. Dominic Casciato comes to Omaha after spending the last two seasons as an assistant for USL Championship member El Paso Locomotive FC. Brought on ahead of the 2021 season as an attacking coach, Casciato took El Paso from 21st to 5th in goals scored across the league and assisted the team to a Western Conference runner-up finish and Copa Texas Championship. He also served as the head coach for the USL Academy U19 squad.
MLS NEXT Pro
Chicago Fire FC announced that Alex Boler has been promoted to General Manager of Chicago Fire FC II. In this newly created role, Boler will be responsible for working directly with Sporting Director Georg Heitz and Technical Director Sebastian Pelzer to oversee the Club's MLS NEXT Pro side. "With Chicago Fire II serving as the final steppingstone between the Academy and the first team, we believe Alex Boler is the perfect person to oversee the team's operations," said Sporting Director Georg Heitz. "Alex started with the Fire Academy and rose through the ranks to manage first-team operations. His dedication to the Club, work ethic and experience uniquely qualify him to guide the direction of Club's MLS NEXT Pro team."
National Lacrosse League
The Las Vegas Desert Dogs rallied from an eight-goal deficit, knocking off the Vancouver Warriors for the franchise's first-ever win 15-14. The Desert Dogs outscored the Warriors 11-2 in the second half, climbing all the way back into the game in front of a crowd of 5,057 at Michelob ULTRA Arena. Rob Hellyer (2G, 7A) led the team in points (9) for the second straight game, while Jack Hannah (4G, 3A) and Charlie Bertrand (3G, 4A) both turned in seven-point outings to pace the offense.
Here are the highlights.
Jeff Teat went off for seven goals and five assists in the Riptide's 16-10 win.
Women's National Basketball Association
The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) announced that the first WNBA Canada Game will feature the Chicago Sky and Minnesota Lynx on Saturday, May 13, 2023, at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON. This marks the first-ever WNBA preseason game in Canada. "Bringing a WNBA preseason game to Canada is an important milestone for the global growth of the league," said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. "I've spoken often of the global popularity of women's basketball and, this past season, WNBA games were broadcast in 207 countries and territories, including in Canada, where fans have shown a great appetite for WNBA action. And as Canadian stars like Bridget Carleton, Natalie Achonwa and Kia Nurse continue to flourish in and drive interest around the league, we're looking forward building on the momentum and excitement surrounding the WNBA in Canada with this historic game."
Canada getting first WNBA game, former commissioner thinks team will follow
The Seattle Storm announced plans to celebrate Sue Bird's storied career, retiring her number 10 and honoring the greatest point guard in franchise history on Sunday, June 11, as the Storm host the Washington Mystics at 3:00 pm PT at Climate Pledge Arena. Bird becomes the second player in franchise history to have their jersey number retired during the pre-game ceremony, joining Lauren Jackson's #15 in the rafters at Climate Pledge Arena. Other activities to honor Bird along with giveaways and fan activities will be announced closer to the event.
The Atlanta Dream have acquired Olympic gold medalist Allisha Gray in a trade that sent the team's 2023 No. 3 pick and 2025 first round pick to the Dallas Wings. "Adding Allisha Gray is a huge step for our organization and we are all celebrating a big win today," said Dream General Manager and Executive Vice President Dan Padover. "She is one of the best two-way guards in the world and is in the prime of her career. The intensity in her style of play will fit perfectly here in Atlanta. We can't wait to watch our group, now with Allisha, grow together as we continue to build towards becoming a perennial contender in this league."
NBA G League
Big man Reggie Perry put up 29.0 PTS and 6.8 REB - including a season-high 37 points against Capital City - in leading Raptors 905 to a 3-1 record. As a result, he's your G League Player of the Week.
As Jonathan Isaac prepares to play in his first NBA game since 2020, take a look back at his time on assignment with the Lakeland Magic as he played in his first live game action in years while finishing up his rehab in the latest episode of On the Grind,
Get an exclusive look at how Director of Quarterback Development Jordan Palmer has been working to bring innovation, movement, and technology together in order to help elevate the QB position in the XFL.
Training camp is underway for the XFL and the Houston Roughnecks in Arlington.
Canadian Football League
The Ottawa REDBLACKS have extended the contract of quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, keeping the veteran American pivot in the Nation's Capital through the 2024 season. "Having consistency at the quarterback position is a key piece to have success as a CFL team, so we're very happy to be able to keep Jeremiah Masoli in red and black for the foreseeable future," said General Manager Shawn Burke. "Jeremiah has proven himself as a leader both on and off the field, and makes us better as a team when he has the ball in his hands."
Indoor Football League
The six-time World Champion Arizona Rattlers will be celebrating their 30th season of Rattlers football in the Valley of the Sun this year. The 30-Year Anniversary logo was created in conjunction with the 2023 moniker "Decades Of Dominance" which will be used across social media platforms throughout the season.
Arizona Rattlers Reveal 30th Season Anniversary Logo
American Hockey League
Dominic Toninato's second goal of the game gives the Manitoba Moose an OT win in back-to-back games.
Austin Siragusa takes a dive into Brayden Burke and Nicholas Jones playing in their 200th career AHL Games!
Plays of the Week
North American Hockey League
The top plays in the NAHL from January 9-15, 2023
Western Hockey League
WHL Top 10
Ontario Hockey League
OHL Plays of the Week
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Top 5 - Week 16
Premier Hockey Federation
The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) has announced its 2023 All-Star rosters for the showcase event on Sunday, January 29 in Toronto, Ontario. A total of 45 players have been selected and divided into three teams consisting of 15 American, Canadian, and International talents who will play for national pride in a round-robin competition and championship. The action begins at 7:00 p.m. ET at Mattamy Athletic Centre and will broadcast live across the United States on ESPN2 and in Canada on TSN, TSN.ca, and the TSN app.
Inside the PHF : Kaleigh Fratkin
American Ultimate Disc League
The expansion Houston Havoc have decided on a logo and team branding ahead of their inaugural 2023 season. The Havoc will play home games in AVEVA Stadium at the Houston Sports Park complex, sharing the 3,000 seat state-of-the-art venue with the Houston SaberCats of Major League Rugby (MLR). "Our new brand is bold, strong and progressive, traits that will embody our team and style of play." said Havoc General Manager Sean McCall.
Did we miss anything newsworthy or downright fun? Have a nomination for next week's column? Contact us today and let us know.
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