Meghan Duggan, captain of the Olympic-winning US women's hockey team, to retire

    PARK CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 26:  Ice Hockey player Meghan Duggan poses for a portrait during the Team USA Media Summit ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games on September 26, 2017 in Park City, Utah.  (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

    (CNN)Meghan Duggan, a captain on the US women's hockey team that captured gold in the 2018 Olympics, is retiring.

    Duggan spent 14 years with the national team, and made the announcement Tuesday in an essay shared with ESPN.
    "Although being an athlete will always be part of my identity, I am ready for the next chapter. I know it's the right decision for me, but at the same time, it's still very emotional," Duggan said in the essay.
      Duggan played in 137 games for the US national team, lighting the lamp with 40 goals and dishing out 35 assists. A native of Danvers, Massacusetts, the 33-year-old Duggan picked up seven gold medals in the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) world championships, and skated for three Olympic teams, including the gold-medal winning squad of 2018.
        Duggan listed the "euphoric joy of winning Olympic gold at PyeongChang in 2018" among her many unforgettable moments, noting that the victory "was especially gratifying after our excruciating overtime loss to rival Canada in the Sochi Olympics four years earlier."
        Although the 2018 Olympic gold was the first in 20 years for the women's US national hockey team, Duggan reveals that her proudest career achievement came not on the ice, but rather in a boardroom.
        Facing a boycott ahead of the 2017 world championships, Duggan and her teammates sat across the negotiating table from the daunting USA Hockey establishment, seeking equality and support for the girls and women in the program, and beyond.
        Tapped by one of the team's lawyers to speak on behalf of the group, Duggan declared, "We did not come this far to only come this far," adding, "This is really important to us, and we're not giving up now."
        "We had to stick together, trust our guts and be confident that this was the right thing to do," Duggan recalls in the essay.
        Ultimately a landmark deal was reached with USA Hockey, and female hockey players have Duggan, among others, to thank for increased fundraising in youth programs and equity in travel arrangements and player's insurance.
        "When you think of a player leaving this program better than when she entered it, that's Meghan Duggan," Kendall Coyne Schofield, Duggan's successor at team captain, told ESPN.
        A former Wisconsin Badger and winner of the 2011 Patty Kazmaier Award as the nation's top collegiate player, Duggan says she's "always dreamt about becoming the first female GM of an NHL team," a goal she helped lay the foundation for through her activism as a player.
        "As women, it's unnatural to be self-congratulatory. We have in the past been taught to be deferential and modest," she wrote. "But you know what? I am proud. I'm SO proud of our team and everything we went through together to achieve the success we did and proud of the way we inspired young girls."
          In 2018 Duggan married her wife, Canadian player Gillian Apps, also a former Olympian. The pair welcomed a baby boy named George in February.
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          Six months with you! ❤️

          A post shared by Meghan Duggan (@mduggan10) on

          "Hockey literally changed my life... I put on a pair of skates as a toddler and grew up through the sport," Duggan wrote in her ESPN essay, adding "I am looking forward to the new adventure and challenges of being a mom and to helping put George in positions to thrive."