Less than three weeks before her first match in the 2012 Olympics in London, Hyde Park native Heather Mitts called it her “top priority” to host her fourth annual youth girls’ soccer camp in her hometown.
When the two-day camp opened Saturday with temperatures more than 100 degrees at Lakota West High School in West Chester, Mitts addressed the group of more than 200 young girls – telling them about the impact soccer camps had on her growing up.
“I remember those (camps) like they were yesterday. I had so much fun,” Mitts said. “I loved the competition and just the fact that you are out there to learn a little bit and play soccer everyday. It can’t get any better than that.”While many young girls were getting their first taste of soccer at the camp, the 34-year-old Mitts said she is going to call it a career and retire after this summer’s Olympics games.
“This is probably the fittest I have ever been, so to be able to walk away right now is kind of surreal, but I feel like this is the right time to do it,” said Mitts, who has endured numerous injuries throughout her soccer career. “I want to go out when I am still at the top of my game and there are other things that I do want to do in life.”
“This is the way it is going to end and hopefully it is with a gold medal around my neck.”
Once she retires, Mitts said that she wants to start a family with her husband A.J. Feeley, who has been a quarterback in the NFL since 2001. With Feeley currently a free agent, there are many unknowns about where the couple will put down their roots. However, with family still in Cincinnati, Mitts made it clear that she wants to continue hosting her annual event.
“We are still up in the air. They are still so many things to still decide, but I will continue to do this because this is something that is very, very special and dear to me,” Mitts said. “To be able to come home, where my soccer career began, is special and we need some more national team players from Cincinnati.”
While she wants to start a family first, Mitts is also hopeful to return sports television where she has already worked as a sideline reporter, studio analyst and color commentator for various sports networks including ESPN and ABC.
But before all of that, the defender wants one more gold medal.
“This is it for me, so I really have nothing to lose. I just want to go out there and play the best I can, help my team win another gold medal in whatever fashion that may be,” Mitts said. “We have already made it to the Olympics, so from here on out it is just icing on the cake.”
Mitts and Team USA, which is No. 1 in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings, will open Group G play against France at Hampden Park in Glasgow Scotland at 5 p.m. local time (12 p.m. ET) July 25 – two days prior to the Olympics’ opening ceremonies.