September 4, 2015
HANGING THEM UP
Former Independence GK Karina LeBlanc to retire
CHICAGO --- There will be one less former Cheesesteak kicking around women's professional soccer. Former Philadelphia Independence goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc, now with the Chicago Red Stars, will retire at the end of the current National Women's Soccer League Season.
|Former Philadelphia Independence goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc will retire at the end of the current NWSL season.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
LeBlanc played 17 years at the international level and 13 years at the professional level, including stints in all three U.S. pro leagues, Women's United Soccer Association, Women's Professional Soccer and the NWSL.
Although she announced her international retirement at the end of May, the goalkeeper has decided that the time is right to pursue other endeavors in life once the Red Stars finish their post season run in the NWSL.
"For the past 18 years, soccer has given me more than I could ever dream of, so it is with a heavy heart that I step away from the game I love so much," said Leblanc. "Having played in every professional league in North America from the WUSA and WPS to today's NWSL, I have seen women's soccer grow here and in Canada. It has been a tremendous honor to be a part of the wonderful organizations that brought women's soccer to our fans. To have played alongside some of the greatest players, and people, while my job was to play in front of some really fabulous fans has been a dream come true."
LeBlanc, also known as KK, is a two time Olympian, a two time gold medalist in the Pan American Games, an NWSL champion and has represented Canada in five FIFA Women’s World Cups. She won a bronze medal with Canada at the 2012 London Olympics. Her international career included 110 games for Canada.
Born in Atlanta, LeBlanc grew up in Domenica until the age of 8, before her family moved to British Columbia. She played collegiately at the University of Nebraska and was a finalist for the Hermann Trophy.
She began her professional career with the Boston Breakers in the WUSA, but saw action in only two games over three seasons (2001-2003), she then spent three years playing in the W-League first with the Montreal Extreme and then with the New Jersey Wildcats. Her WPS career included stops with the Los Angeles Sol (2009), Philadelphia Independence (2010) and magicJack (2011). She played in 21 games over two seasons with the Portland Thorns FC (2013-14), and 21 games with the Red Stars over the last two seasons.
LeBlanc was the first female soccer ambassador for UNICEF, and it was through working with the organization that she recognized her life had a greater calling than just playing soccer, “I realized that the difficulties in my life have happened so that I could help other people,” LeBlanc said.
She plans to continue to work as a UNICEF ambassador and doing speaking engagements, but the vivacious goalkeeper also hopes to work as a TV personality. She was an analyst for Fox Soccer during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and now has meetings planned with networks following the end of the NWSL season.