Abby Wambach, Team USA Soccer Player
Abby Wambach talks about her childhood growing up in Rochester, N.Y., becoming a national champion during her freshman year of college, and her career-ending highlight winning the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup.
ABBY WAMBACH: If you truly want to be treated like a man, if you truly want equal opportunity, you need to be handled being treated like a man. And if you're not, we deserve to get crushed in the media. I'm like, yeah, bring it on, baby.
I grew up in Rochester, New York. I'm the youngest of seven children. My brothers and sisters treated me like I was just like one of the team. I started playing soccer at 5, and I was a competitive kid and not scared. My first three soccer games I ended up scoring 27 goals. I needed to be challenged. So my parents stuck me on the boys team.
My high school years were amazing because we answered to our coach, yes, ma'am. My mom gave her the go ahead, like, hey, yell at Abby. Give her a hard time. Don't let her develop this overconfident sense of herself. This is high school. We would have done anything to win.
Mia knew that she could tell me anything, and I would listen to her. She was the best in the world. And to be confident with her on the field, we became kind of a dynamic duo.
- Drives it, far side, headed by Wambach, and Wambach has scored. USA leads.
ABBY WAMBACH: It was just such an amazing feeling to be able to win knowing that my idols, Mia, Joy Fawcett, Julie Foudy, these women were all retiring. And so, to be able to send them off with a gold medal around their neck, I don't know if I've ever felt more pride in my life.
As a player and as a competitor, you define yourself by not just wins and losses, but with championships. And this was my first attempt to try to win a championship without Mia, without the people that put women's soccer on the map. And we lost embarrassingly to Brazil.
I actually wanted to disappear. Some of my darkest days were after that tournament. It definitely fired me up and impassioned me to ensure that never ever happened again. This is my last shot at winning a World Cup ever. If I want to be happy, if I want to not be pissed off for the next 40 years of my life, we'd better win this thing. It took a lot of checking my own ego at the door to take a step back and let some of these kids take a step forward so that they can grow their confidence and maybe change the course of the game one way or another.
I am a control freak. I'm fine with saying that. I was freaking out like the whole game. When that final whistle blew, I remember kneeling and just having this huge, huge sigh of relief because I knew it was over, that this was the end of my career. It was really nothing quite like putting that crest on and representing your country. I have to be able to feel confident and comfortable with walking away from that and hoping that, not only did I leave the game better than I found it, but the value systems and the ethos that I hope to have instilled will continue that culture. This is what it all means, those years that the blood, sweat, and tears was worth it.