Images in video courtesy of Mark Palczewski & Paul Winstanley
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - July 6, 2017 - Following a decorated playing career with the U.S. Women’s National Team, midfielder Michelle Kasold (Chapel Hill, N.C.) has announced her retirement from the program. Achieving a total of 227 international caps wearing the red, white and blue, Kasold has received impressive hardware during her ten years. Those accomplishments feature four golds, one silver and one bronze medal to accompany the team’s highlight performances with a fourth-place finish at the 2014 Rabobank Hockey World Cup in The Hague, The Netherlands and fifth place finish at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“Michelle was a very versatile player, who could play in different positions and would do what the team needed her to do,” said Janneke Schopman, USWNT Head Coach. “As a player, she was always busy with how to improve herself both on and off the field, taking care of her body as well as working extra on skills like penalty corners. She was able to master certain skills relatively quickly being very deliberate in training, learning and getting it done. An example of that is her scoring in the opening game of the Olympic Games against Argentina of a penalty corner from the inserter, a position she only took months prior to the tournament.”
From Chapel Hill, N.C., Kasold was a four-year letter winner as a member of the East Chapel Hill High School field hockey team. She led the Wildcats to four state championships and was a three-time NFHCA All American, three-time All-South region and four-time First Team All Eastern North Carolina Selection. She was also named the North Carolina Player of the Year in both 2003 and 2004. She played for the club team TarDevils.
“I got my start playing field hockey when I was a rising sixth grader,” commented Kasold. “I grew up playing just about every sport I could get my hands on. My mom played in high school, so when she saw a local summer recreation camp, she wanted me to try it too. It didn’t take long to fall in love with the game!”
Kasold went on to play collegiately just down the road at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. A threat the second she stepped on the pitch, she was an ultimate game-changer. As a Demon Deacon, she earned a handful of personal accomplishments that included NFHCA All-South Region Team, First Team All- ACC, All-ACC Tournament Team, NCAA All-Tournament Team and First Team All-American. She also set new records in single season assists and career assists as well as tallying many game-winning goals.
When she was in high school and during her freshman year of college, Kasold was a member of the U.S. U-16, U-19 and U-21 Women’s National Teams. In 2005, she was part of Team USA that competed in the women’s Junior World Cup in Santiago, Chile and just a year later she became a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team.
“Being a part of Team USA was something that I dreamed about as a little girl,” recalled Kasold. “I grew up watching the Olympic [Games] and dreaming that one day, that would be me. Being able to wear the red, white and blue and represent the United States on the biggest stage is a feeling I can’t put into words. Every time, I stood shoulder to shoulder with my teammates, one hand over my heart and one around my teammates shoulder, I would get goosebumps.”
Kasold participated in various test series, world championship experiences and two Olympic Games while donning USA across her chest. Her 227 international caps have accredited to four gold medals including the 2011 and 2015 Pan American Games, where Team USA captured Olympic Games qualifying tickets, 2013 FIH Hockey World League Round 2 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and 2014 Champions Challenge in Glasgow, Scotland. Adding to the hardware was a silver at the 2007 Pan American Games and 2012 Champions Challenge in Dublin, Ireland and a bronze at the 2016 Champions Trophy in London, England.
While reflecting on her career, Kasold mentioned the many amazing moments that she will cherish and remember with her time with USA Field Hockey. She would reminisce the times of winning the 2011 Pan American Games, walking out in the London 2012 Olympic Games, playing in a medal round at the 2014 Rabobank World Cup and scoring a goal in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as a few of her personal favorite highlights in her career.
“As much as the big matches and goals will stand out as highlights of my hockey career, my favorite memories of being on the team will always be ones surrounded by teammates and friends,” noted Kasold.
Fulfilling the dream she had as a little girl, Kasold is a two-time Olympian, having competed in both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games. She mentions the Olympic Games as such a special event. Even though Team USA frequently plays the attending teams throughout the year, she adds that there is something different about when you step on the field in the Olympic Stadium.
“There is always a feeling of pride when you wear USA on your chest, but when you are competing with all of Team USA in one place, it just takes it to a whole other level,” said Kasold. "We are all on the same team and we are all invested in each and every race, game and competition. It is cool to be at the pinnacle of your sport and being able to share that with so many other athletes.”
“From the first game in a USA uniform to my last, every single one was so special,” added Kasold. “The feelings never changed and I always knew that I had to give my best for my teammates and as I represented this country. It made me better on and off the field.”
Kasold is currently residing in North Carolina where she plans to stay involved with field hockey through coaching. She wants to help grow the game in her home state and hopes to show the younger generation that anything is possible if you are willing to work for it.
“I want to thank my parents more than anymore,” commented Kasold. “They pushed me, picked me up and encouraged me through every up and down in my career. They wouldn’t miss a single game for anything.”
She also goes on to thank the coaches who believe in her and challenged her potential. And finally, she wants to thank her teammates. She notes, the journey would not have been worth it if she didn’t have an amazing group of women by her side.
“Michelle was a great player and I want to thank her for all her years dedicated to the U.S. Women’s National Team,” added Schopman.
USA Field Hockey wishes the best of luck to Kasold in her future endeavors.