Her aim is true – ‘I Never Say Never’
The TITANS of our day and age; that is what the TIME Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People is and it clearly shows how popular soccer has become. Abby Wambach has real star power – and, so does the U.S. Women’s National team as fast approaching FIFA Women’s World Cup excitement starts to heat up.
TIME Magazine released it’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, which includes soccer icon, Abby Wambach.
The first shuffling steps Wambach took on a soccer journey has come to re-write sport’s history—its legacy continuing to grow, its place at the pinnacle of both male and female American soccer now undoubtedly unquestioned.
Regardless of how many female soccer players dominate the international — or domestic – soccer scene, Abby Wambach is a proven icon dominating on and off the field.
A real star power who has now been named as one of the TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, Wambach creates more of a impression with old and young fans and crosses all gender and sexual orientation lines. Even when compared to Brazil’s elegant striker Marta, Rochester, New York’s Wambach is the modern day role model embodying power and passion.
At 5’11” and born Jun 2, 1980, Wambach is no stranger to the game of soccer and is the third oldest on the team – Captain Chrstie Rampone is five years older and Shannon Boxx is nearly 38. Wambach, at 35 will generate most of the star power for the tournament. Wambach has been a star since her high school soccer days when she was the 1997 National High School Player of the Year for Our Lady of Mercy High School and was named All-Greater Rochester Player of the Year in 1995 and 1997.
You can line up France’s Eugenie Le Sommer besides Canada’s Christine Sinclair and even add Sweden’s Caroline Seger and Jill Ellis’ eyes would still land on Abby Wambach. A proven goal scorer, Wambach is a leader on and off the field who will be able to help the eight Women’s World Cup debutantes — Ashlyn Harris, Alyssa Naeher, Whitney Engen, Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg, Morgan Brian, Sydney Leroux and Christen Press – her “lethal finishing abilities inside the penalty box” as US Soccer says – Wambach is an integral part of the depth and versatility of our country’s women’s team. With Wambach on the roster, hopefully one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people will help our team bring home the championship title they so deeply desire.
Born the youngest of seven, Wambach was bred to compete. In a household where protecting french fries from older brothers and working to earn every moment of familial attention were the norm, toughness and a fierce intensity, qualities that now set her apart from her peers on the pitch, were by all accounts expected. Taking a backseat or shying from a challenge in the Wambach family—a clan filled with athletes—was simply out of the question.
Wambach went on to star at Rochester’s (NY) Our Lady of Mercy High School, eventually becoming the 1997 national prep soccer player of the year. As the #1 soccer recruit in the country, she accepted a scholarship from the University of Florida after a recruiting battle that saw the top collegiate soccer programs fight for her services. And like she had at each stop en route to Gainesville, Wambach continued both her scoring and winning ways. She finished her four year career as a national champion (1998), a three-time All American, and Florida’s all-time leading goal scorer. She was selected second overall in the 2002 WUSA draft and one year later was named to the American roster for the 2003 World Cup.
Wambach went on to play in the 2007 and 2011 Women’s World Cup, win two Olympic gold medals, and was named 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year.
As of April 4, 2015, Wambach has scored 178 goals in 239 international matches. She is currently the leading all-time international scorer for men and women. Now, Wambach has her eyes set on the one thing that has eluded her, the one omission from a resume already envied by all—the 2015 World Cup.
“I have one more opportunity to win a World Cup for my country, I’ve never won one,” says Wambach. “I want to make my country proud. And I know that in 2011 we did but we fell short, we didn’t come home with the World Cup. I know people think we won the World Cup because of that Brazil goal, but didn’t win. And I feel that hurt and the heartbreak every single day.”
Mia Hamm on Wambach:
Abby Wambach has always been fearless. Even as a rookie on the U.S. women’s national team, she would score goals that made me say, “Gosh, if she doesn’t win the ball, she’s probably going to get crushed.” She never blinked. If it is what her team needed, it is what she was going to do. How can you not cheer for that?
As Abby has developed into a star, scoring more international goals than any other player in history, she has embraced being a leader. There are times when Abby just throws the team on her back and wills it to victory when that looks almost impossible. Abby is also a great role model for young fans and recently led the charge to get FIFA to use grass for this summer’s Women’s World Cup, as it does for men. Though she lost the battle, the fight sent a powerful message about equality in sports. Whether inspiring her team on the field or taking on important issues off it, Abby uses her passion and fearlessness to lead by example.
Team USA is poised to do amazing things at the World Cup. While I can’t predict what will happen, I know that under Abby, they will never quit.