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U.S. Women's National Team Defender Heather Mitts Retires

Three-Time Olympic Gold Medalist Played 137 Times for the USA

CHICAGO (March 13, 2013) – Heather Mitts, one of just three women’s soccer players to win three Olympic gold medals, has announced her retirement from club and country.

The 34-year-old Mitts retires after having played 137 times for the United States, good for 18th on the USA’s all-time caps list and sixth-best for a defender. She debuted for the USA back in February of 1999, wearing the U.S. jersey for the first time against Finland in Orlando, Fla.

Mitts was a member of the USA’s 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medal teams as well as the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team. She played in nine career Olympic matches including a memorable performance in the 2008 gold medal game victory against Brazil. She scored two goals in her career, both game-winners.

“The time has come for me to move onto a new stage of my career,” said Mitts. “I truly appreciate the women who paved the way, to my friends and dear teammates that I will never forget. I will miss the little things, the travel by plane, train and mini-van, the locker room moments, keeping my teammates on their toes and nothing will ever compare to putting on that U.S. jersey. It’s been an amazing journey with some obstacles, but in the very end I feel so fortunate that we were able to close on a golden note.”

For the USA, she started 104 of her 137 games and played in her last match on Dec. 15, 2012, against China in Boca Raton, Fla., coming on in the last 15 minutes for Christie Rampone in the state where she had a highly successful college career.

The 5-foot-5 right back always played bigger than her size and after breaking into the U.S. team full-time in 2004, played almost every game for the USA through 2008, aside from when she was out injured. She was a First-Team All-American at the University of Florida where she helped the Gators to an NCAA title in 1998. She ended her college career as Florida’s all-time leader in games played, games started and minutes.

“Nothing worthwhile is ever easy,” said Mitts. “It's a game but it's something we all love to do. I will miss the camaraderie more than anything and the chance to compete every day to be the best in the world. My teammates were my bridesmaids, confidants, source of inspiration and family and always made me look good on the field. Soccer has given me so many opportunities and has been a positive and humbling teacher. I feel completely fulfilled and it’s that perfect time to move on. I leave with a smile on my face and happiness in my heart.”

Mitts, who played in both former professional leagues, for the Philadelphia Charge in the WUSA and the Boston Breakers, Philadelphia Independence and the Atlanta Beat in WPS, was allocated to the Boston Breakers for the new NWSL before deciding to retire.

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The U.S. WNT will play its 10th and final match of the Fan Tribute Tour presented by Panasonic on Dec. 15 in Boca Raton, Fla., against China. Former Florida Gators Abby Wambach and Heather Mitts talk about returning to the Sunshine State and the end of a remarkable year.

One of the USA's most veteran players, the gutsy Mitts earned her first cap in 1999. From 2004-2010 she played in almost every game the USA played, starting most of them, almost exclusively at right back. Mitts made her third appearance in the Olympic Games when she started during the USA's 3-0 victory against Colombia on July 28, 2012, as the U.S. clinched a quarterfinal berth in the London Olympics.

Since breaking into the team full time in 2004, she has earned 113 of her 118 caps and become one of the USA’s steadiest defenders … 2011: Partially tore both hamstrings at different points during the year but recovered in time to make the Women’s World Cup team, her first … Played in just four games, starting one … 2010: Suffered a few minor injuries, but still started in all 10 games she played … Played every minute of three matches at the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying tournament … Started both legs of the Women’s World Cup Playoff against Italy … 2009: Played in all eight matches for the USA, starting seven and earning her 100th cap against Sweden in the Algarve Cup Final, a match in which she captained the team … Had one assist during the year, against Canada in Toronto, for her seventh career point … 2008: Returned from major knee injury just in time to be earn a spot on the Olympic Team, starting all three of the USA’s domestic games over late April and early May …Started 24 of 25 matches she played for the USA including all six at the 2008 Olympics as she played a key role in the USA’s gold medal run … Had one assist, in the Olympic semifinal against Japan as she threw the ball in to Heather O’Reilly, who scored … Spent the last half of 2007 and first half of 2008 rehabilitating from ACL surgery … 2007: Played in eight matches, starting them all, before she suffered an ACL injury against Canada on May 12 that knocked her out of contention for the Women’s World Cup … 2006: Played in 22 matches, most of the team, and started 20 games, tied for most … Was second on the team in minutes played with 1,759 … 2005: Started and played every minute of the 2005 Algarve Cup at right back … Started eight of the USA’s nine matches during the year … 2004: A member of the USA’s 2004 Olympic Residency Camp, she had a breakout year, playing in 28 games while starting 17 … Played in her first world championship at the 2004 Olympics, seeing time in two matches including playing 90 minutes against Australia … Scored the first two goals of her career, both game-winners on goalmouth scrambles after corner kicks, tallying against Canada on July 3 and in a wild 4-3 win against Iceland during the Fan Celebration Tour on Sept. 25 … 2003: Played in two matches, bringing her career total to five matches with no starts … 2002: Appeared in one match … 2001: Was called into training camp for the 2001 Nike U.S. Women’s Cup and made the game roster of 18 … Appeared in one game … 1999: Made her U.S. debut against Finland at the Algarve Cup … Youth National Teams: Was a member of the U.S. Under-21 Women’s National Team Pool in 1999-2000 … Was a member of the U-21 team that won the 1999 Nordic Cup in Iceland … First Appearance: Feb. 24, 1999, vs. Finland … First Goal: July 3, 2004, vs. Canada.
2011: Traded by the Philadelphia Independence to the Atlanta Beat for the 2011 WPS season … Played 708 minutes for the Beat over eight games, starting them all … 2010: Signed with the Philadelphia Independence as a free agent during the 2009 WPS offseason … Played in 17 games for the Independence in 2010, starting 15, helping the club to a playoff berth, two playoff wins and a berth in the championship game … 2009: Allocated to the Boston Breakers for the inaugural WPS season in 2009 … Started 19 matches for the Breakers, mostly at left back, and tallied one assist across her 1,631 minutes … 2003: Started all 51 games in which she played for the Charge in three seasons, helping the club to the WUSA playoffs in the first two years … Was a WUSA All-Star in 2003 … Played 4,414 minutes in her WUSA career and had eight career assists … Broke her tibia in WUSA action in 2003 and was sidelined for five weeks during the WNT’s lead-up to the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup … 2001: Selected in the second round of the inaugural WUSA Draft by the Philadelphia Charge in 2001 … Club: Was a member of the Cardinal Premier team that won a national championship in 1997 … Won two Ohio state titles with Club Cincinnati.

Full name is Heather Blaine Mitts … Graduated with a degree in advertising … Worked for ESPN as a sideline reporter on college football during the 2005 seasons … Served as a studio analyst for ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 during the 2003 and 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cups and was the sideline reporter for several MLS broadcasts in 2005 and 2006 … Has done color commentary for Sunshine Network and for Fox Sports South on women’s college soccer games … Appeared on the cover of Philadelphia Magazine in June of 2002 as one of the city’s “Sexiest Singles” … Was voted sexiest player in the WUSA on Playboy.com during the 2001 season … Also was voted ESPN.com’s “Sexiest Female Athlete” in 2004 … The first soccer player ever to appear in FHM in a five-page photo spread … Was on the cover of the Sports Illustrated for Women college preview issue in 1999 … Also appeared in the 2005 SI Swimsuit Issue with then-fiancé, now-husband A.J. Feeley, a quarterback with the St. Louis Rams … Was married on Feb. 13, 2010 in Mexico … Co-hosted the “Tailgate Show” on Comcast SportsNet, the pre-game for the Philadelphia Eagles home games in 2004 … Ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain in 1999 … Loves watching and playing sports … Traveling, food and wine are her passions … Loves to play golf, tennis and squash … Has a website at www.heathermitts.com … Father, Don, a cardiac surgeon at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, played basketball at Kentucky under Adolph Rupp … Holds a soccer camp every summer in her hometown of Cincinnati … Is the co-owner of D1 Sports, a sports-specific training facility in Cincinnati.

Played at Florida from 1996-1999 and graduated as the all-time leader in games played (95), starts (94) and minutes played (7,547) … Only game she did not start was the very first game of her freshman year … Helped the Gators to it’s first and only NCAA title in women’s soccer in 1998 … Helped Florida win the SEC title all four years of her career … Was named Most Inspirational Player as a freshman at UF and was team MVP as a senior … Was an NSCAA First-Team All-American as a senior and Third-Team as a junior … Named to the NCAA All-Tournament after the NCAA Championship run and All-SEC First-Team as a junior … Was also a SEC All-Academic pick … High School: Was a First-Team All-State selection as a junior and senior at St. Ursula Academy, which went 70-5-10 during her career, winning the 1993 state title.

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