United States women's hockey star Meghan Duggan announced her retirement Tuesday in an essay that was published on ESPN. Duggan, 33, was the captain of the United States squad that won a gold medal at the 2018 Olympics -- the country's first gold medal in two decades. The Wisconsin graduate is the only man or woman to captain both a gold-medal winning Olympic hockey team and an NCAA championship team.
"Hockey literally changed my life," Duggan wrote. "I put on a pair of skates as a toddler and grew up through the sport. It's been one of the greatest privileges of my life to play for Team USA. While being an athlete will always be part of my identity, I am ready for the next chapter."
Duggan was a star on the ice. She debuted with the national team in 2007at 19, when she was a freshman at Wisconsin. She played for the national team for 14 years, and in that time accumulated 40 goals and 35 assists in 137 games. She was a part of three different Olympic teams and won silver medals in 2010 and 2014 before getting the gold medal in 2018.
Off the ice, Duggan was just as influential. She was a prominent voice in the national team's negotiations with USA Hockey in 2017. The team had threatened to boycott the world championships until they received the same support and treatment as the men's national team did. USA Hockey ended up agreeing to a four-year contract with the women's national team, resulting in players receiving increased pay and the same travel arrangements and insurance as the men's team.
"It's not easy to stand up to an establishment," Duggan wrote. "Past players and mentors, like the legendary Cammi Granato, advised us: If you are going to go after something this monumental, you all have to be on the same page. Any female hockey player in the United States needed to know why we were doing this... we had to stick together, trust our guts, and have confidence that this was the right thing to do."
Duggan wants to stay involved in the sport but did not say what her next steps are in the essay.