Reign FC defender Stephanie Cox announces retirement
Today, Reign FC and the women’s soccer world say farewell to an incredible athlete and wonderful human as Stephanie has announced her retirement from professional soccer. After two and half seasons in the NWSL, and a long successful career with the U.S. Women’s National Team, the defender has decided that now is the time to hang up her boots.
“I am sure that it will take me awhile to fully process that my playing career is over, but I know that after such a special season that now is the right time for me to step off the field for good,” said Cox of her decision to retire from professional soccer.
“Playing professionally and all the travel and commitment entailed has been a sacrifice for my family and I am so grateful for their constant support and encouragement.”
Cox, 29, made 49 appearances (48 starts) and tallied 4 assists in two and a half seasons with Reign FC. Seattle signed Cox in June of 2013 midway through their inaugural campaign.
In 2014, Cox was a key member of a Reign FC team that fixed itself on the top of the NWSL standings and stayed there. Seattle allowed a league-low 20 goals (0.83 goals-against-average) en route to winning the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Shield with the best regular season record. Cox, who successfully shut down the left side of the pitch, was voted onto the NWSL Second XI in 2014.
Reign FC re-signed Cox for the 2015 campaign and saw more of the same, as the defender once again was a pivotal member of a stellar backline that added additional talent and proved difficult to break down. Seattle captured a second consecutive NWSL Shield and Cox was again voted to the NWSL Second XI once more.
“The last three seasons with the Reign have been the best of my career. I love the players, the staff, the ownership, and the amazing environment that has been created by all involved,” said Cox. “It has been a dream come true to be able to go to practice, do what I love, and then come home to my family at the end of the day.”
Cox ran rampant up and down the let flank, shutting down some of the world’s best talent with patient one-on-one defending, as well as assisting incredible goals such as Jess Fishlock’s leaping finish against Western New York Flash in 2014.
Additionally, Cox’s service into the box, be it from the run of play or a corner kick, was unparalleled. Cox lofted a hefty 42 corner kicks into the box in 2015. With the service of teammate Megan Rapinoe on the right, and Cox sending in ball after ball from the left, Reign FC was one of the most dangerous aerial teams, leading the league with 10 goals from the ole’ noggin in 2015.
“On the field, [Cox] is by far the best left back that I have ever worked with and had the privilege of watching play,” said head coach Laura Harvey. “A lot of the credit for how successful the team has been over these last two seasons comes down to her.
“Steph has been a brilliant player and leader for this club. She has been a huge part of this club since we started in 2013 and will be hugely missed. I wish her and her family every happiness in the future. Steph will always have a place at Reign FC.”
On a day to day basis, Cox arrived to training, matches and even the airport with one of Reign FC’s most popular faces in tow, the legendary Kaylee Cox. The littlest Reign FC player has spent her early years hamming it up with some of the world’s best professional athletes, who all took turns watching, playing, and hanging out with number 14.5.
“My Reign experience seemed more memorable because I got to do it as a mom and bring my daughter along. I had such joy seeing my daughter Kaylee interact with the players and staff, she definitely had her favorites but knew everyones name by the end of the season,” said Cox.
Sharing her passion with her daughter is one of Cox’s top memories from her time with Reign FC, and the list of moments that stand out in her mind go on and on.
“Kaylee signing autographs after the semi-final, all the away game flights and traveling from person to person who would play with her. I will be forever grateful for our players and staff who took care of her, made special ‘Reign lady shirts’ (Kaylee’s name for the logo) for her and covered her booboos with bandaids. They all are the best!”
Cox was the all around player, not just for club, but also for country as the Elk Grove, Calif. native began playing for the U.S. Women’s National Team in 2006 and amassed 89 career caps. She won a gold medal with the USWNT at the 2008 Olympics in China, picked up a silver medal in the 2011 World Cup and a bronze medal in the 2007 World Cup.
While Cox hangs up her boots on her playing career, she’s lacing them back up to begin a new journey as a coach.
“It’s time to focus on my family and immediate community in Gig Harbor as I am currently coaching the girl’s high school soccer team. I am looking forward to new opportunities, but I am sure that they will all center around soccer, whether it be coaching, speaking, commentating, or camps. It’s fun to have options and time to dream.”
Congratulations on a fantastic career and best of luck in the years to come!