Hockey: Black Sticks women's captain Stacey Michelsen retires as one of New Zealand's greats

After 12 years, women's Black Sticks captain Stacey Michelsen has announced her retirement.

Michelsen, 30, holds the record for the most appearances for the side with almost 300 and has led the team through their biggest highs and lowest of lows.

She might be understated off the turf, but on it, Michelsen is anything but.

"She's probably the most influential player I've had the pleasure of playing with or working with," coach Graham Shaw tells Newshub.

Michelsen says she's been mulling over Wednesday's decision to retire for a while.

"Tokyo was always definitely a goal of mine," Michelsen says. "But also something that I thought that afterward, I would probably step away."

With 296 appearances, Michelsen is New Zealand's most capped women's player. But out of all of those games, there's one that stands out - the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

"I remember leaving the Commonwealth Games and feeling just so elated that we had literally achieved everything we wanted to," she says. "And I think what made that tournament so special was that the team environment was so great, the way that we played."

But along with the highs, there have been lows too.

"I think for me probably, a lot of the difficulties over the years have just come in how much of a roller coaster it's been, being in our team."

Among them, failing to medal at an Olympics after three attempts and a damning review into the team's culture.

But Michelsen feels she is leaving a team with a much better environment than it once had. 

And because of that, she believes the Black Sticks women are well placed to defend their Commonwealth Games gold and push for a medal at the World Cup next year.

For now, though, Michelsen just wants to pop a cork and celebrate.

"It's been a little bit of a shame that we're in Cambridge, and my family is in Northland. 

"We'll go and celebrate when we can. Hopefully soon."

And when she finally gets to, it'll be well deserved.