Steve Cash, sled hockey stalwart and 3-time Paralympic champion, retires

2014 Paralympic Winter Games - Day 6
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Steve Cash, perhaps the most decorated athlete in the history of sled hockey (also known as sledge or Para ice hockey), announced his retirement Monday.

The announcement comes just over four months before the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics, which would have marked his fifth Paralympic Games.

The 32-year-old goaltender is tied (with teammates Nikko LanderosAdam PageJosh Pauls) for the most Paralympic gold medals with three, and has a U.S.-record eight world championship appearances. The U.S. won the World Sled Hockey Challenge eight times in Cash’s 13 tournaments.

In his 13-year span of those eight worlds, Cash stopped the U.S. to an unmatched five world titles, two silver medals and one bronze.

“It has been quite the journey and an honor to represent my country,” Cash in a USA Hockey release. “I want to thank all of teammates throughout the years along with the supporters I have gained along the way. You guys have made the journey what it is.”

Cash and the U.S. team earned bronze in his 2006 Paralympic debut, before beginning a reign of dominance that produced three gold medals from 2010 to 2018. He also took bronze at his first worlds in 2008, with the golds coming in 2009, 2012, 2015, 2019 and earlier this year; the Americans settled for silver to longtime rival Canada in 2013 and 2017.

One of the faces of the U.S. team, his 16 years in the net for the national team produced 119 wins in 159 games.

He earned an ESPY in 2010 and was named Paralympic SportsMan of the Year in 2009 by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.

“It’s not often that you meet someone as talented and as humble as Steve Cash,” USA Hockey director of sled national teams Dan Brennan said in the release. “Steve has had an amazing career with the national team. He’s a great hockey player, but an even better human being. He has been the foundation of this team for 16 years now and it has been an absolute privilege to work with him all this time. I wish him nothing but the best in all of his future endeavors.”

The U.S. will aim for a fourth straight Paralympic gold medal in March, likely with 35-year-old Jen Lee in net. The former U.S. Army sergeant was on the past two Paralympic teams and four world teams since 2013.

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Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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