Veteran U.S. national team defender Heather Mitts has announced that her playing career is over. But her connections to the American soccer community will continue, as she's joining the Philadelphia Union's television team.
"The time has come for me to move onto a new stage of my career," Mitts wrote in a statement on her Facebook page. "I truly appreciate the women who paved the way, to my friends and dear teammates that I will never forget."
Mitts will be a sideline reporter and analyst during the Union's local television broadcasts. Her debut will come Saturday, when the Union host the New England Revolution at PPL Park. The Comcast Network will air the game, with kickoff set for 5:00 p.m.
It won't be Mitts' first time on TV - far from it, in fact. She worked as a studio analyst for ESPN and ABC's broadcasts of the 2003 Women's World Cup. Mitts was unable to play in that tournament due to a broken leg.
The Cincinnati native also did some sideline reporting work on ESPN's Major League Soccer broadcasts back in 2005. After settling in Philadelphia, Mitts co-hosted a morning show on WCAU, the city's NBC affiliate, for a while.
"[N]othing will ever compare to putting on that US jersey," she wrote. "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."
On the club side of the game, Mitts played for the Philadelphia Charge in the old Women's United Soccer Association. She later played for the Boston Breakers, Philadelphia Independence and Atlanta Beat in Women's Professional Soccer.
She was going to play for the Breakers in the soon-to-debut National Women's Soccer League, but decided to hang up her cleats instead.
"It's amazing how 28 years of playing a sport I love, and always will, can fly by," Mitts wrote "From my first cap til now, the growth of the sport has been profound."
Mitts became arguably as well-known off the field as on it. She appeared in the 2005 edition of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, and in 2010 she married former Eagles quarterback A.J. Feeley.
When not at PPL Park, Mitts said she'll be an "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," Mitts added. "I leave with a smile on my face and happiness in my heart."