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Wednesday March 13, 2013 Former Gators soccer standout Heather Mitts officially announces her retirement

Updated: 8:59am, April 18

Mitts

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Former Gators soccer standout Heather Mitts, who went on to star internationally for the U.S. Women's National Team, announced her retirement from the game Wednesday evening.

A three-time Olympic gold medalist, Mitts was a member of the Gators team that won the 1998 national title in the program's fourth season.

Here is a Q&A we did with Mitts prior to last summer's London Games, when she talked about leaving the game for good after the Olympics.

She posted the following statement on her website, HeatherMitts.com, to say goodbye to the game:

"The time has come for me to move onto a new stage of my career. I truly appreciate the women who paved the way, to my friends and dear teammates that I will never forget.

I will miss the little things … the travel by plane, train and minivan, the locker room moments, keeping my teammates on their toes and nothing will ever compare to putting on that U.S. jersey. It’s been an amazing journey with some obstacles but in the very end I feel so fortunate that we were able to close on a golden note.

(Photo: Mitts, right, celebrates winning gold last summer with teammate Abby Wambach).

Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. It's a game but it's something we all love to do. I will miss the camaraderie more than anything and the chance to compete every day to be the best in the world. My teammates were my bridesmaids, confidants, source of inspiration and family and always made me look good on the field. Soccer has given me so many opportunities and has been a positive and humbling teacher. I feel completely fulfilled and it's that perfect time to move on. I leave with a smile on my face and happiness in my heart.

I will continue to stay close to the sport, as I will be working as a sideline analyst and ambassador for the Philadelphia Union while taking part in other soccer-related projects. I also look forward to starting a family and becoming an ultimate soccer mom.

A special thanks to Ohio ODP, my numerous club teams, St. Ursula Academy and the University of Florida. To Becky Burleigh, Vic Campbell & Mark Kirkorian for preparing me to reach the next level and James Galanis for helping me reach my full potential. 

April Heinrich, Greg Ryan, Pia Sundage and Tom Sermanni for giving me an opportunity to play for the best team in the world. 

Thanks to the numerous trainers and supporting staff over the years. Omi Iwasaki for helping me come back from my ACL. My sponsors TRX, Polk, GNC and especially Under Armour, which has let me protect the house since 2004. My agent, Dan Levy, and most of all my loving parents, supportive extended family and wonderful husband.

Mitts bio

It's amazing how 28 years of playing a sport I love and always will, can fly by. From my first cap 'til now, the growth of the sport has been profound. I look forward to the launch and success of the NWSL, and rooting on my Boston Breakers. Old ladies club of Christie Rampone and Shannon Boxx keep the flame alive! I leave with so much gratitude to US Soccer for allowing us the right to play for our country. Lastly, the fans. Your constant love and support for the sport and this team is among the best in the world. I look forward to joining you to cheer on this amazing team.

'Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.'

Thanks to all the people who have made this dream."

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