HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Former Kamehameha-Kapalama pitcher Kamalani Dung, has joined the brand new Athletes Unlimited Softball league — joining a roster filled with decorated softball players.
“This league just reached out to me and I’m super excited.” Dung told Hawaii News Now. “A little intimidated because the players in this league are some of the best players in the world in softball right now, there is going to be Olympians and some All-Americans, it’s just an absolutely stacked lineup of people that I’m going to be facing.”
Dung is also an accomplished softball player at both the collegiate and world level — making second team All-Pac12 in her senior year at Cal Berkeley and qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with the Puerto Rican National team.
The former Golden Bear was signed to a National Pro Fastpitch team, the California Commotion — but with the rise of coronavirus cases in California — it seemed unlikely that she would play this year, but as one door closes, another one opens.
So Dung took a chance — in a league that is unlike any other.
“It’s actually a super interesting league, it’s called Athletes unlimited, they’re looking to branch off into all sports eventually and right now softball is the first that they are venturing into.” Dung said. “So it’s kind of exciting to be a part of this, their first steps into making this a real thing.”
You would think that starting a new league in 2020 would not render much success, as other startup leagues have already felt the crippling effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
But the infant league is moving away from the traditional format, marketing itself as an innovative and new way of playing pro sports.
There will be no set rosters — instead 56 players will get drafted into four different teams each week by a team captain. The players will be ranked based on a point system that takes into account, both team success and the individual’s play, with the top four players being named the captains for the following week.
The six week, 30-game season will be played exclusively at Parkway Bank Sports Complex in Chicago, with television rights being split between ESPN and CBS Sports.
This allows the league to reach a wide audience, especially everyone on back home — Dung’s motivation every time she steps onto the mound.
“All athletes that come out of Hawaii know that were never going to forget our roots.” Dung said. “This is where I was born and raised, this is my culture, this is everything to me, my family, my friends and everyone who’s impacted my life while I’ve been home and throughout my entire life, it means so much for me and I play for them.”
2020 has been a difficult year for sports, with the pandemic causing a lot of leagues to reevaluate their safety protocols in order to hold competitions — Athletes Unlimited is no exception.
“Before everyone flies in we have to take a covid test and when you get there you have to take one, so they’re doing a really good job.” Dung said. “I think they have a hotel where it’s going to be just our athletes and its kind of like a bubble, our stadium and everything is really well-formatted. I feel pretty safe heading on into it, but we’ll see.”
Besides the health precautions, the former Warrior has been physically preparing herself to get back on the field in the Windy City.
“I’m as ready as I can be.” Dung said. “I’ve been working hard and I’m sure the rest of the athletes have been as well because they’re the best of the best and we’ll see what happens.”
Keep an eye out for Dung — who will wear #99 — when the inaugural season of Athletes Unlimited Softball kicks off on August 30th.