COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - November 3, 2016 - They are not only the backbone of the U.S. Women’s National Team’s backfield, but are also the international standard, the measuring stick, of a true competitor in the defensive circle. After devoting their energy and skill sets to the USA pipeline for 15 years, Lauren Crandall (Doylestown, Pa.) and Rachel Dawson (Berlin, N.J.), both 3-time Olympians, have announced their retirement from the squad.
“USA Field Hockey has been terrifically well served by these two players,” said Craig Parnham, USWNT Head Coach. “Lauren and Rachel have been international powerhouses for an extended period of time and have given so much to the sport. Not only that, but they are terrific people and role models. I think the game has allowed them to express themselves and will set both up for greatness as they move into their future careers.”
“What Rachel and Lauren have achieved with an accumulative 577 caps and becoming three-time Olympians cannot be underestimated,” said Simon Hoskins, USA Field Hockey’s Executive Director. “Their dedication to excellence over a sustained period, the leadership they have brought to the team and their passion for field hockey standout and together command much admiration. They are legends within our sport and they continue to make a broader impact on the growth of field hockey and make positive impressions in the lives of many young and aspiring athletes.”
Earning diplomas from Wake Forest University with magna cum laude distinction and DeVry University Keller Graduate School of Management, Crandall has one of the heaviest sticks in the game. Her leadership has steered the squad through the Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games. She has claimed five gold and five silver medals in the world championship level of the sport.
“During the years, I have watched Lauren from an opposition’s standpoint and now, also having directly worked with her, I can say one of the greatest qualities Lauren has is that she is about actions just as much as words,” said Parnham. “She is a great leader and leads by example. I can think of many instances that Lauren’s actions led the team to great moments.”
While earning an impressive 279 caps, some on-field victories and moments were just a little sweeter. Captain of the USA squad, Crandall’s special memories include beating Belgium in the Olympic Qualifier in 2008 in Kazan, Russia, overcoming Argentina in the 2011 Pan American Games to qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games and celebrating with the fans. She notes the atmosphere of the game against Australia in the 2012 Olympics was incredible and that every single game of the 2014 Rabobank World Cup experience was special. With numerous tours tagged to her name, the daughter of Amy and Tim Crandall, and sister to Shane, Lindsey and Kailey shares her favorite experiences abroad.
"From a cultural perspective, my favorite tour was Osaka, Japan in 2008," said Crandall. "We stayed in a hostel and were immersed in Japanese culture. I had studied Japanese culture at Wake, and really enjoyed experiencing their ideals of interdependence and community orientation. The local athletes at the club would come every morning to cook us breakfast to show their appreciation for hosting us. I was in awe of their team mentality and humbled by their graciousness. My other favorite tour was my first tour to New Zealand - I was a young pup and had a blast doing skits and learning what international hockey was all about."
Hockey has been such a core element of Crandall, where she grew professionally and personally. Being part of the squad taught her the power of teamwork, the importance of individual accountability and the impact of selflessness. It also taught her how to follow and thus how to lead. She has found that she has learned most about herself through her interactions with teammates. Not just learning how to work together, but how to create something greater than our self, together; something that they are proud.
"I am so incredibly proud and honored to have worn the stars and stripes," said Crandall. "I want to thank all of my teammates, both past and present, who have made my career worthwhile. You have all been my main motivation throughout the years. Thank you to all of my coaches who helped shape me as a person and player, our fans who have cheered their way into a special place in my heart, and most importantly, my family, who have been my biggest support system and cheer base for our team!"
Crandall is undecided on which career path she will now pursue. Whatever she selects, we're sure she'll find success yet again.
Graduating from Tar Heel Nation, the University of North Carolina, with distinction, Dawson has field hockey in her veins. Her family tree has deep roots embedded in the sport with two of her older sisters' impressive play propelling them to both earn spots on the U.S. Women's National Team. Nominated for the 2006 World Hockey Women's Young Player of the Year award as one of the best six players under the age of 23 in the world, Dawson was on the same path as her siblings. Now, as a three-time Olympian with 298 caps, she has captured five gold and four silver medals at the international level.
“Rachel has been incredibly consistent in delivering under
The versatile defender, midfielder joined the junior national team in 2001 and advanced to the senior squad in 2005. She completed her time with Team USA as the most capped athlete on the squad. When asked her favorite on pitch moments, Dawson took a deeper perspective when reflecting on her time with the USWNT.
"I don't have a favorite on-field memory," said Dawson. "I experienced the game and my career as a journey, a series of interwoven, shared moments, each one, and each teammate equally remarkable."
As the daughter of David and Karen and the sister of seven siblings, David, Natalie, Andrew, Sarah, Meghan, Hannah and Melanie, being part of a team comes second nature to Dawson. Her family has helped to shape her competitive spirit and grow her natural athleticism. They have also acted as her number one support system as she dedicated herself to learning, growing and excelling in the sport of hockey.
While on tour with Team USA, outside of competition venue, Dawson enjoyed the times no one was able to see or may understand. The moments that were shared in the locker room or on bus rides in foreign countries.
"I loved the unglamorous moments, when we were digging in and exploring the nitty gritty exhilarating details of sport, ourselves and life," said Dawson.
As a leader on and off the pitch for the red, white and blue, Dawson never stayed stagnate and used hockey as a vessel to continue on a journey of self-exploration.
"My experience in field hockey made me who I am," said Dawson. "It has shaped and transformed me. I thank everyone who shared the road with me, my family friends, teammates, coaches and fans. Each one of you had a meaningful impact and helped me become the person I am today. Each one of you was a teacher, and helped reveal a lesson that I would not have discovered alone. Without you, none of this is possible. Thanks for showing up for me, and thank you for letting me show up for you."
For Dawson, the future holds much promise.
"The path is still unfolding," said Dawson. "I'm currently consulting for DE Turf, a massive sports complex under construction in Delaware. As Director of Field Hockey, I'll be working with a team to create the strategic vision for excellence in field hockey. Beyond that, I envision an entrepreneurial future for myself, developing a venture that integrates an individual’s physical experience, whether in sport, yoga or elsewhere into a pathway for holistic, life-long learning, development and expansion."
USA Field Hockey wishes Crandall and Dawson the best in their future endeavors.