Khalif El-Salaam Signs with the Atlanta Hustle, Announces $3,400 Salary

El-Salaam will commute from Seattle to games.

Khalif El-Salaam. Graphic credit: Daniel Cohen — AUDL.

The next major free agent domino in the AUDL offseason fell on Wednesday, as the Atlanta Hustle announced the signing of former Seattle Cascades and San Diego Growlers standout Khalif El-Salaam.

El-Salaam broke new ground by announcing his 2022 salary in a series of Tweets; most players’ contracts are still undisclosed. El-Salaam said he will be paid $3,400 for the season, including salary and reimbursements for travel expenses to home games and practices in Atlanta. The team will cover away game travel, as it does for its Atlanta-based players. Though he will have input over which events he attends, El-Salaam wrote that he will prioritize making it to games over practices.

“We recognize that players and staff are our closest partners,” the Atlanta Hustle said in a statement. “They sacrifice and invest personal resources to grow the sport of ultimate and we are incredibly grateful to have their support. As an emerging business we are mindful of creating frameworks for sustainable growth that reflect their contributions. Our players have shared feedback that they prioritize professionalism in the experience of being an AUDL athlete over direct payment. The Hustle strives to address that feedback by elevating the quality of our player experience. professionalism, coaching, training, health and safety, travel, lodging, game day experience promotion, etc. We dream of the day that all Hustle players can earn a living wage playing on our team. We will continue to work closely with our players to steer our business and grow revenue to the point where that dream is realized.”

The AUDL also released a statement:

AUDL Statement

Without a previous connection between El-Salaam and Atlanta, the signing seemed to come out of the blue. However, El-Salaam and Hustle coach Miranda Roth Knowles know each other. Both spent significant time in the Seattle ultimate scene, and Roth Knowles coached El-Salaam as a middle schooler in the early 2000s.

Back in January, after playing at Beach Worlds tryouts, El-Salaam reached out to Roth Knowles about possibly signing with the Hustle as a travel player. She immediately said yes. Wanting to earn his spot, El-Salaam went to Hustle tryouts a few weeks after initially reaching out to the team. The match was a good fit, and they ironed out the contract after the second round of Hustle tryouts.

“Khalif elevates our level of engagement, energy, and strategy,” Roth Knowles said. “We are so glad to have him on the Hustle.”

Additionally, just last week, El-Salaam successfully made the 32 person shortlist for the second round of World Games tryouts. Miranda Roth Knowles is also a coach for the Team USA World Games squad.

The Hustle are retooling after 2021 prized offseason pickup Antoine Davis recently signed with the New York Empire. In the re-established South Division, Atlanta will be competing with Carolina, Austin, Dallas, and Tampa Bay for just two playoff spots. The Hustle made the playoffs in 2021, dropping their playoff game after a fourth quarter collapse to New York. El-Salaam made his Championship Weekend debut in 2021 with the San Diego Growlers and hopes to carry that experience forward with the Hustle.

  1. Alex Rubin
    Alex Rubin

    Alex Rubin started writing for Ultiworld in 2018. He is a graduate of Northwestern University where he played for four years, but now spends his time playing pickup and coaching de Toledo High School in Los Angeles. You can reach him through e-mail (rubin.alex14@gmail.com) or Twitter (@arubes14 or @dthsultimate).

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