COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – May 21, 2018 - Following one of the most decorated playing careers in U.S. Women’s National Team history, three-time Olympian Katelyn (Falgowski) Ginolfi (Lewes, Del.) has officially announced her retirement from the program after competing in 261 international matches for Team USA. Ginolfi joined the USWNT in 2005, when she was just 15 years old, and instantly earned respectful recognition as a wise athlete beyond her years. Recently, her expertise and leadership were integral in the USWNT’s gold-medal finish at the FIH Hockey World League Semifinals in Johannesburg, South Africa, where the team officially qualified for the Vitality Women’s Hockey World Cup in London. She was also key in the squad’s finishes at the 2014 Rabobank Hockey World Cup (fourth) and Rio 2016 Olympic Games (fifth).
“When I joined the staff four years ago, Falgo was already a great player, letting her actions on the field speak for herself,” said Janneke Schopman, USWNT Head Coach. “Getting to know her well throughout these years she was a player who cared a lot about the team, she has a very big heart. Falgo always worked hard, leading by example on the field. She also had great tactical awareness and knew how to play the game and orchestrate the play. It wasn’t necessarily flashy but very effective and great for a coaching staff to have a player like her on the field.”
Ginolfi grew up in Landenberg, Pa., and similar to many other field hockey athletes, started playing the sport in 1998 because it was something her older sisters did. She was a four-year letter winner at St. Marks High School and also played for the club team, Strikers. After only playing the sport for five years, Ginolfi’s advanced skill set was recognized and she officially landed a spot on the U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team, making her the youngest player named to the squad at just 14 years old. It did not take long for her talent to get recognized by the U.S. Women’s National Team’s head coach and just a year later, she found herself on the senior squad roster.
When she was just a senior in high school, Ginolfi was selected to the roster to compete at the 2006 Hockey World Cup in Madrid, Spain. As the youngest USA athlete named at just 17 years old, she aided in the USWNT’s sixth place finish.
Ginolfi went on to play collegiately at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a four-year starter and two-time captain for the Tar Heels. Following an undefeated National Championship performance in her first year, she took the spring semester off to train with the USWNT full-time and her dedication to her country paid off as the squad qualified for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. She missed the start of her sophomore season that August after being named to the competing roster for The Games as the youngest and only collegiate athlete on the squad. After finishing fourth in their pool, USA went on to claim eighth place.
To start her junior year, she again missed some time with the Tar Heels as she competed in the BDO Junior Hockey World Cup in Boston, Mass., where the squad finished eighth. After returning to North Carolina, Ginolfi didn’t miss a beat and led them to another historical National Championship in 2009 after clinching the victory with just 11.7 seconds left on the clock. In 2010, she unfortunately missed the season after suffering a concussion in preseason that sidelined her for the fall. Despite not playing, she served as the team captain.
In her senior season, Ginolfi missed seven games in October 2011 while helping USA to a gold medal and Olympic berth at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. She did this all while playing with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) to shut down Argentina’s top player in the final. The victory was USA’s first over perennial power Argentina since 1987 and Ginolfi’s performance earned her Player of the Game honors. She was also named to the 2011 World All-Star team, the only USA player on the 18-member squad, and nominated for the 2011 FIH Young Player of the Year Award.
Following this landmark victory with USA, Ginolfi returned to North Carolina and led the Tar Heels to their seventeenth ACC Championship and a NCAA Tournament runners-up finish. She accumulated an impressive shelf of accolades during her four and half years which included leading the nation in assists (2007), All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011), All-ACC Tournament (2008, 2011), All-NCAA Tournament (2007, 2009), ACC Freshman of the Year (2007), All-South Region (2008), NFHCA Second Team All-American (2007, 2008) and First Team All-American (2009, 2011). To cap it all off in her senior year, she was named ACC Tournament MVP, South Region Player of the Year and Longstreth/NFHCA Division I National Player of the Year, and finished as North Carolina’s career leader in assists. Following her career, Ginolfi’s No. 23 jersey was retired in her honor. She graduated in December 2011 after majoring in communication studies.
After college and less than five months after surgery to repair her ACL, Ginolfi was living on the West Coast training with the USWNT full-time preparing for the London 2012 Olympic Games. She was selected to represent USA and following a disappointing finish, Team USA bounced back a few months later at the Champions Challenge I in Dublin, Ireland earning silver.
“Being part of Team USA was about being a part of something bigger than myself,” commented Ginolfi. “You cannot put into works the bonding that occurs with your teammates, through the highs and lows, through the victories and defeats. I have easily made some of the closest friends of my life.”
In 2013, Ginolfi was part of a staffing change and coastal relocation that fueled the USWNT’s upward trajectory on the international scene. She competed in various test series, multi-nation events and world championship experiences while remaining a constant, solid figure in world hockey. That year USA went on to place at the FIH Hockey World League Semifinals, which earned them a 2014 Rabobank Hockey World Cup berth. Ginolfi was selected to represent USA once again. She was integral in the squad’s inspirational performance beating higher world ranked teams and outlasting Australia in a semifinal shootout to narrowly miss out on a medal against their Pan American rivals, claiming fourth.
Mimicking their 2011 performance, Ginolfi was part of the USA team that went undefeated at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, securing the squad qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. This was followed up by a fifth-place finish at the FIH Hockey World League Semifinals before a shocker of a performance at the 2016 Hockey Champions Trophy in London, England. As the lowest world ranked team, Ginolfi assisted in impressive victories as well as a shootout win over Australia in the 3rd/4th place game to earn USA a medal. Continuing with that momentum, USA impressed the world that August at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games earning a historical fifth place finish.
In 2017, Ginolfi was part of the team that again stunned the world hockey scene at the FIH Hockey World League Semifinals when they upended the only two teams to upset them in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in two shootouts to earn gold. That August, she was also part of the team that earned third at the women’s Pan American Cup in Lancaster, Pa.
Ginolfi retires from Team USA having competed in 261 international matches and earning six gold, three silver and two bronze medals.
“There were legends before me on the National Team, who paved the way, who inspired me and taught me how to conduct myself and play the game,” added Ginolfi, on what it was like to be on Team USA. “I can only hope that I have inspired the next generation, just as they inspired me.”
While reflecting on her career, Ginolfi mentioned winning the 2011 Pan American Games as a career highlight. As mentioned, she shut down Argentina’s top player in the final to win gold and qualify for the Olympic Games.
Impressively, Ginolfi is a three-time Olympian having competed in the Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games. She stated that there was no better feeling than being able to represent her country on such a prestigious platform.
“There is no greater sense of pride than representing your country at the Olympic Games,” remarked Ginolfi. ‘When I hear the chants ‘USA! USA! USA!’, I still get chills and am transcended back to standing in the tunnel of the Bird’s Nest Stadium at the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Every Games is unique, and every experience makes you hungry for more!”
Ginolfi accredits field hockey on allowing her to travel the world, while sharing her journey with her family and friends. She has met some of her closest friends, even husband, playing the sport and is forever grateful for the opportunities it has opened.
Ginolfi currently resides in Coronado, Calif with her husband, Jonathan, and their new yellow Labrador, Lewey.
USA Field Hockey would like to wish Ginolfi the best of luck in her future endeavors.