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  • Writer's pictureJamal Saafir

Volleyball Looks Like The Next Sport Celebrity Investors Get Behind

In recent celebrity-investment news we heard a lot about actors and entertainers, such as Ryan Reynolds and Michael B Jordan getting into the professional world of fútbol or soccer, as it's known in the U.S., and celebrities such as Heidi Khlum and Drake investing in Major League Pickleball.

It seems a new celebrity-investment phenomenon may be unfolding once more.

According to a report from Boardroom, League One Volleyball (LOVB), the largest brand in youth volleyball and the first professional full-season volleyball league in the country, made an announcement on Wednesday that it has acquired $35 million dollars in Series B funding. Among its investors, which was led by Left Lane Capital with participation from Ares Management Funds, is a plethora of recognized faces respected for their achievements in sports and entertainment. Those names include Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker and her daughter Lailaa Williams, Olympic volleyball gold medalist Jordyn Poulter, actress Amy Schumer, 1991 FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Amy Griffin, Fenway Sports Group Partner Linda Henry, and Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum.

Funds raised in the Series B round comes after the initial support from LOVB’s existing Series A investors like professional NBA player Kevin Durant, Rich Kleiman‘s Boardroom Sports Holdings and comedian Chelsea Handler, all of whom advocate for LOVB’s special community-up ideology.

Saying this is “volleyball’s era,” co-founder and CEO of League One Volleyball Katlyn Gao withheld no enthusiasm for this latest multimillion-dollar development.

“At LOVB, we are creating an all-new narrative for women in sports, including in this round which again captured over 50% female investors,” Gao said. “Unlike other leagues that take a top-down approach, we are involving all stakeholders at different levels and propelling the growth of our sports fandom. To us, this is the only way to build a sustainable and successful league in 2023, and if the excitement from some of the most well-known and admired trailblazers across sports, entertainment, consumer, and business in our latest round is any indication, it’s clear, LOVB is onto something big.”

LOVB will use the funding to strengthen both pro and club operations. Among its priorities, LOVB will:

  • Hire more athletes, coaches, and trainers

  • Build out its branding

  • Identify and book arenas for sold-out crowds

  • Improve training facilities in the run-up to the preseason

For the moment, the pro league will initialize with clubs in six markets: Atlanta, Houston, Madison, Omaha, Salt Lake and another to be announced later in the year. For the first time, LOVB intends to grant club players the opportunity to learn from and cultivate relationships with fellow icons in the sport.

“Together with LOVB, I’m thrilled to help bring major league volleyball to the U.S.,” Vonn said. “With over 200 million girls involved in the sport globally, this is a huge opportunity to continue providing a platform for young women to excel, both athletically and personally, far beyond high school. It’s about empowering the next generation of female athletes and fostering a strong sense of community within the sport.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to invest in a league that is focused on community and unlocking new opportunities for women in sports,” Parker and Williams added. “LOVB is leading the way in a sport that is close to our hearts and creating a larger platform for volleyball to be more visible year-round.”

Play is scheduled to tip off in November 2024 with the LOVB preseason, followed by the regular season in January 2025, and concluding with the LOVB Finals in April.

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