Athletes Unlimited to launch a new professional lacrosse league in July

Michelle Tumolo, a former All-American at Syracuse, will be one of the key players on the new Athletes Unlimited pro lacrosse league. Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Oct. 20, at the espnW: Women + Sports Summit, Athletes Unlimited announced it is gearing up to launch a new women's professional sports league in lacrosse.

The new lacrosse league will be played from July 19 to Aug. 22 after the 2021 World Lacrosse Women's World Championship in Maryland. It will feature a fast-paced game -- with eight-minute quarters -- and teams of nine players. The league will have 56 players, making up four teams of 14 players each.

"We are just so over-the-moon excited that we have the opportunity to play," Michelle Tumolo, a former All-American lacrosse player at Syracuse, told ESPN. "This opportunity to play, and then the platform that we are about to be given, is bigger than we've ever had."

Tumolo was also a member of the 2017 gold medal-winning U.S. national team and has coached at the collegiate level. She has played in a handful of professional leagues but finds the organization and exposure of this one to be the most promising, she said.

Athletes Unlimited hopes to build off the success it had with its softball league earlier this year. In June, the league reached an agreement with CBS Sports and ESPN to broadcast all 30 games of the softball league's inaugural season.

In the new lacrosse league, individual athletes will earn points based on team wins and their own individual performance. Points can be earned on every play, and the leaderboard changes constantly. Teams will change each week, with the top four athletes in the standings serving as captains and drafting their teams.

"We are going to actually change the way in which people think about the way pro sports is organized and really empower the athletes to have a bigger say," Jon Patricof, CEO and co-founder of Athletes Unlimited, explained.

In addition, the Athletes Causes program will donate to charities chosen by the winning players equal to 50% of their season bonus, and players can also create their own fundraising pages and use the national spotlight to highlight issues important to them.

The Athletes Unlimited softball league concluded on Sept. 29, and the Athletes Unlimited inaugural pro indoor volleyball league begins February in Nashville.