HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Last weekend marked the start of the inaugural season for Athletes Unlimited Softball, the self-proclaimed ‘reinvention’ of the traditional professional sports league.
Going into week two, former Kamehameha-Kapalama pitcher Kamalani Dung, says that the experience has been so far, so good.
“So far, this has been amazing.” Dung told Hawaii News Now. “I’ve enjoyed every moment of being here with Athletes Unlimited.”
The former Warrior’s experience has been so positive, that she took to social media, to make the prediction that this league is here to stay.
“If anything, I am so confident.” Dung said. “You heard it here first, I think that this new Athletes Unlimited model, were you get drafted to teams every week , so although you get points as a team, you get points for what you do individually, and that’s big for making sure people stay competitive and people continue to try throughout the game.”
The weekly drafts remind Dung of her days at the playground, where she would pick teams to play each other, but as the season progresses, it becomes much more strategic on who you draft.
“At this point you’re kind of hoping that you’re with people that you mesh well with.” Dung said.
This league is not short on talent, 56 of the country’s best softball players have congregated in Chicago for the inaugural season, and the former Cal Bear is learning everything she can from them.
Dung is considered one of the babies in the league, at only 23-years-old, she is around a group of Olympians and world champions, who have helped Dung grow as a player.
“I have a few people that I consider mentors who have really taken me under their wing. I’d say Haylie Wagner is one of them and Taylor Edwards has really been helping me.” Dung said. “It’s been awesome meeting these players and just seeing how effortless it is for them.”
Athletes Unlimited are among one of the few professional sports leagues on the air right now, after the coronavirus pandemic sent sports leagues into a tailspin, but Dung understands the responsibility she has to talk about the issues that are our society is facing.
“This country, as a whole, is in a really vulnerable place.” Dung said. “It’s important for players like myself who have the platform and that play on national television to really just represent, make sure that everybody feels loved, everybody feels important and make sure we stand up for what is right, no matter what it is.”
Not only is Dung focusing on the issues facing the nation, she hasn’t forgotten about her roots in the 808, who have seen the crippling effects of the pandemic and Dung wants to help out — teaming up with the Hawaii FoodBank.
“At the end of the year, you partner with a charity of your choice.” Dung said. “I’m going to be getting a bonus depending on where i fall on the charts and however much my bonus is, (Athletes Unlimited) is going to match half of it and donate it to a charity of our choice, so I chose the Hawaii FoodBank.”
For now, the Waianae native sends a positive message to the people of her island home.
“I want to tell everybody back home to stay happy, keep the aloha spirit.” Dung said. “I know that things are hard right now, but we know that it’s going to get better, if everybody continues to stick together.”
Dung is on Team Show this weekend, their first game is on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. Hawaii Time on ESPN 3 — look for number 99.