The inaugural Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse season lures back a familiar face.
Holly McGarvie Reilly did not initially plan on playing in Athletes Unlimited’s inaugural lacrosse season, despite boasting an impressive resume as a former member of Team USA. In fact, she didn’t plan on playing professional lacrosse again.
“I kind of unofficially stopped playing after the summer of 2018 with the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League, and had my second son in August of 2019. I just kind of thought I had hung up the cleats and my playing days were over. Then in October of this past year I got a call from a former USA teammate, Amber McKenzie, who is playing, and she said ‘Hey, you wanna play?’ I had not considered it at all.”
Although she was intrigued by the offer, Reilly was not willing to lace her cleats up for just any league, especially with her young family to consider. “I really did my research on what the league is about, and what the trajectory of the league is,” Reilly said in a recent interview with She Plays, “ Is it going to fall apart after a year or two, like some of the other leagues did, or was it really here to stay?”
Reilly was highly impressed with the resources the Athletes Unlimited provided. She was particularly encouraged by the league’s commitment to providing extra rooms and a child care stipend to for the players with children.
“I am so grateful to have family members that are stepping up, and we’re going to enjoy special time with my sons, and also the league, financially, making a commitment to my participation in the league with a child care stipend. Also arranging extra rooms so we can have our kids on site.”
Reilly hopes that her participation in the league will inspire players who are mothers, as well as older players in general. At age 34, Reilly is aware of the generation gap between her and other AU athletes, but she looks forward to the challenge.
“I have been quizing myself on the players in the league because two thirds of them I don’t even know. I am 10-20 years older than they are, and I follow college lacrosse but it is hard to keep up.”
With Athletes Unlimited’s unique format where players are drafted to new teams each week, Reilly will have the opportunity to learn from and defend against several young attackers. As for which player Reilly wants to test her skill against first, she’s interested in a new challenge.
“I haven’t actually played against Kylie Ohlmiller ever. She is a top name in the game and she’s shifty, she’s a lefty. I’m a righty defender, so I’m excited to match up on her and see if I can hang.” Ohlmiller, NCAA Lacrosse’s all-time leader in points, has already been named a captain for week one of the Athletes Unlimited season.
As Reilly looks to bring her X-factor back to the field, she also has made strides towards growing the game off the field. Reilly launched Renegade Lacrosse in 2017, an organization that offers camps, clinics, and training to young lacrosse players. “My big mission at Renegade is to empower women and to help them build their confidence by taking risks, so we do that through lacrosse.” Through Renegade, Reilly intends to build a stronger lacrosse community for the next generation, a desire that was inspired by her own journey.
“When I started playing lacrosse I was part of the inaugural program at my middle school in New Jersey. I would say there wasn’t a community. It wasn’t that it was positive or negative, good or bad, it just actually didn’t exist. We started it. So I think that it influences my goals.”
After a successful lacrosse career, and a new commitment to expanding the game through Renegade Lacrosse, Reilly is bringing her X-factor back to the field this season in Athletes Unlimited.
Week 2 of the inaugural Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse begins on July 30th with Team Wood vs Team Trainor live on CBS Sports Network.