— Sports

Kiley Neushul’s retirement leaves hole on US water polo team

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. (AP) – Kiley Neushul had a plan. She would play for the U.S. women’s water polo team in the Tokyo Olympics and then move to Italy. Then the games were postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Neushul – one of the best players in the world – had to make a decision.

She chose the rest of her life.

“I don’t know if I would have been in the right headspace to continue,” Neushul told The Associated Press on Wednesday in her first public comments since her decision. “I think, you know, I’m working full-time for a company now. I’m studying full-time. So I can pursue other things that I’ve always been interested in. And I think for me. I’m in a good place. And that’s what matters.”

While Neushul is moving on, her absence creates a giant hole in the lineup for a powerhouse U.S. team going for a third consecutive gold medal this summer. Known for her efficient movement in the water and clutch play in several big games, Neushul was a key performer for the U.S. on each pool side. “She’s an incredible athlete,” said Melissa Seidemann, who played with Neushul at Stanford. “She’s an incredibly gifted teammate. And it’s been an adjustment, I think, in many ways. But, you know, we’re all happy for her to make that decision that (makes) her life better. I think we still feel her presence, so that’s important.”

Asked how he plans to replace Neushul, U.S. coach Adam Krikorian said: “It’s impossible.”

“She’s one of the best players ever to play the game, and we don’t have anyone like her,” he said.

“It’s cliché, but it’s next player up, and it’s got to be many athletes stepping into that role.”

team for Tokyo.

Kiley Neushul helped lead Stanford to three NCAA titles, and she won the Cutino Award in 2012 and 2015 – the top honor for a Division I water polo player. She made her first appearance with the U.S. national team in 2013 and had ten goals during the team’s run to gold in Rio.

While Neushul isn’t going to suit up for the U.S. again, the sport remains a big part of her life. She said she swims “almost every day when it’s warm,” and she plans to play again for New York Athletic Club at some point. Her husband is a coach for Pro Recco, one of the top pro teams in the world. Neushul has been helping coach a group of under-12 boys and girls at the Italian club.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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