U.S. National Team Midfielder Kayla Bashore Smedley retires from field hockey

March 22, 2013, 10:34 a.m. (ET)

U.S. National Team Midfielder Kayla Bashore-Smedley retires from field hockey
Two-time Olympian Kayla Bashore-Smedley has announced her retirement from the National Team

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – March 21, 2013 – U.S. Women’s National Field Hockey Team midfielder Kayla Bashore-Smedley has officially announced her retirement, bringing to an end a career that included two Olympic Games and 173 international caps for Team USA.

“Making the decision to retire was the single most difficult decision I have made so far in my life,” said Bashore-Smedley. “I love competing at the top level and giving that up was extremely hard. After meeting Craig Parnham, the decision was even harder. With the amount of talent on the team and Craig as a great new leader, we have so much potential to be successful in Rio. Even so, I am at that point in my life where it is time to move on to other things. It's bittersweet.”

The Shoemakersville, Pa. native was accustomed to the black and white patches of a soccer ball until the age of 15. In an untraditional story for a two-time field hockey Olympian, Bashore-Smedley picked up a field hockey stick for the first time as a freshman in high school. She was recruited to play at Indiana University and led the Hoosiers to their first NCAA tournament appearance and the program’s most successful season in history as a senior captain.

Bashore-Smedley made her debut with the National Team in the fall of 2005, wearing the Team USA jersey for the first time against Canada during a friendly test series in Virginia Beach, Va.  

Bashore-Smedley was a member of the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic Team roster as well as the 2006 World Cup Team and the 2010 World Cup Qualifying Team. She played in eleven career Olympic matches, scoring a goal against New Zealand in Team USA’s 4-1 victory at the 2008 Beijing Games. Bashore-Smedley competed at the 2007 Pan American Games and was named to the 2011 Pan American roster, but was removed from the team after suffering a head injury in an intra-squad scrimmage weeks prior to the Olympic qualification tournament.

“Kayla has been a remarkable competitor and she will continue to be an incredible ambassador for the sport," said Steve Locke, Executive Director of USA Field Hockey. “I admire her for her athletic prowess and willingness to give it her all in every competition. I know she will continue to do what she can to help grow the game and we at USA Field Hockey appreciate the years she has dedicated to representing her country on the international stage.”

“I feel truly blessed and grateful to have had the opportunity and experiences I did as a member of the U.S. National Team,” said Bashore-Smedley. “Without my family, none of this would have been remotely possible. I have met so many people, made so many friends and have seen the world all while playing the sport that I love.  It feels like not too long ago, I was in Virginia Beach and playing in my very first international match.  So many amazing memories and friends have been made between then and now that will forever be a part of me.”  

Following the London 2012 Olympic Games, Bashore-Smedley started a field hockey institute and began implementing field hockey into elementary schools in the Bay Area. She hopes to give young athletes the same opportunity to play that she had growing up.

“When kids have the chance to learn and be exposed to hockey at a younger age, they can master basic skills and really become spectacular players in their teens,” Bashore-Smedley said.  “I had the chance to play field hockey when I was 15 and almost missed out on the opportunity to play at a higher level. I just want to give kids the same opportunity to play because you never know how it might change their lives. Even if they don't become an Olympian, being a part of a team sport has so many benefits and helps build character, fitness and self-esteem.”

Bashore-Smedley said she isn’t sure what tomorrow will bring but she looks forward to growing roots in San Diego and starting the next big chapter in her life.

When asked what her next move will be, Bashore-Smedley enthusiastically responded “to stay still!”  

“While I do love traveling and being busy, my husband and I love San Diego and are looking forward to starting a family. I am open to a lot of possibilities an am excited to move on to life’s next big chapter.”