Abby Wambach Calls It a Career
Last night, in New Orleans, Louisiana, one of soccer’s all-time greats called it quits. Abby Wambach played in her last game for the U.S. Women’s National team in an illustrious international career that began back in 2001. Even those on the outskirts of the game of soccer can’t help but know who Wambach is. She is one of those figures that transcends sport for so many reasons.
While the 1-0 defeat to China certainly wasn’t the way she would have wanted to go out, the game wasn’t about a result. It was about taking time to honor and thank a woman who is undoubtedly one of the biggest reasons the U.S. Women’s team is still among the best in the world. Wambach was a leader, a clutch goal scorer and a conduit between the Mia Hamm-led team of the previous generation and the team that won the World Cup title in Canada this past summer.
She also epitomized class and a ‘never say die’ attitude, whether it was scoring late goals to tie or win games or battling for more equality between the genders in soccer. Those of us who are longtime fans of the sport could come up with many memories of her career, those special moments that are etched in our minds forever.
For me, I think the 2015 Women’s World Cup was a time that defined Wambach’s career for me. I had the chance to see the first two U.S. group stage games in Winnipeg over the summer. Wambach was naturally one of the team’s biggest draws as the Cup got started. But over the course of the tournament, there was an interesting development. Wambach found herself rotating between a starting role in some games and a place on the bench in others, including limited field time in the quarterfinal, semifinal and final.
Many players of her caliber, in that same situation, would have raised a fuss about it. But not Wambach. She handled it with a style and grace that reminds all of us what sport is about – team. She has always been about team and has worked tirelessly to pass that along to all those younger teammates who have surrounded her over the past few years.
No doubt, Abby Wambach will be missed. Greatly. Both for her contributions to soccer on the field and the voice she has brought to it off the field. I can’t imagine she’ll be leaving the game completely. It wouldn’t surprise me to see her involved somewhere as a coach or maybe even a commentator. I’d love to hear her given the platform to continue to share her thoughts on some of the hot topics in the sport!
Good luck, Abby Wambach. Thanks for the joy you’ve given to me and my family over the years. Thanks for inspiring the next generation of girls, including my daughter, to strive to be their best and to strive to be themselves. And thanks for showing us all what it means to be an influence who makes all those around you better!