What it's Like to be Abby Wambach

Abby Wambach talks to reporters at the State University of New York at Brockport in Brockport, N.Y. on Oct. 21, 2017. Photo by Bella Taylor

Abby Wambach, a retired women’s soccer player, two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA World Cup Champion, visited the State University of New York at Brockport on Oct. 21, 2017 for a mediated chat alongside reporter Jeff DiVeronica of the Democrat and Chronicle.

Before her talk with DiVeronica, Wambach allotted 10 minutes to reporters from different news stations in a group-style interview. Questions ranged from her thoughts on the future of the league to her thoughts on salary differences. She also offered advice for athletes deciding between academy and high school sports and how she feels about coming to her hometown to speak.

Wambach offered her opinion on talent in women’s soccer and how that should reflect on the salary of women’s soccer players.

“Do I think that the women overall need to be getting paid more money? Absolutely. Do I think that U.S. soccer can continue to supplement the league so that these women are getting paid more money? Absolutely. I think that it shows that since enough time has passed since the men didn’t qualify that our women are not just qualified and don’t only deserve and earn the pay, but that we are the premier team of U.S. soccer,” Wambach said.

Wambach also discussed that it is the responsibility of not only a children’s parents to put a young athlete into academy, but to make sure that is what the athlete wants and to decide if the athlete has enough potential for academy to be effective. In terms of how Wambach feels about coming home, she discusses how amazing it is to be home.

“Something different happens to me here because I was one of these kids sitting in these seats at one one point. I lived here, I ate the food, I breathed the air, I understand the culture and the people, the Rochester weather. I represented this community and coming back here, I want to show the values in which I was taught and I was taught really important values about integrity and honesty and raising your hand when you make a mistake and saying, ‘I screwed up, I’ll be better and let’s move forward.’ Also, I know that whatever happens in my life, I’ll be able to come back here and land,” Wambach said.

Abby’s mother, Judy Wambach, made a few comments about Wambach coming home.

“I’m just really glad that she came home for the weekend. We (her family) appreciate Brockport inviting her here. We have a big family so we want everyone to be able to see her,” Wambach’s mom expressed.

DiVeronica, the mediator for the chat, developed his relationship with Wambach by reporting on her soccer games from when she was in school until she became the soccer celebrity she is today. The conversation was initiated with talk about Abby’s book, "Forward."

“How did you decide on the title?” DiVeronica asked.

“A lot of authors let the title surface when it’s ready. I wanted to have the name of the book settled before I wrote it and the irony is that it was going to be a puff piece and then I got pulled over and I got a DUI. Everything changed. The book was taking a massive turn forward. Then 'Forward' became the title,” Wambach opened.

“What made you decide to write the book?” DiVeronica asked later on.

“It’s a diary. As a professional athlete, you’re always trying to gauge what is private and what is public. Those lines can get blurred and you have to boundary yourself and keep things private. There were things I was suffering with privately, and also I didn’t want anybody to know because I was embarrassed by privately, but it kept stirring inside of me and I wasn’t able to find any release from it because I was keeping it private. Being this celebrity and creating this book and writing this fake version of myself helped me to reevaluate this project and my life and what I wanted to stand for. I put in all of the things I felt and was dealing with; the real feelings that I had about soccer and things I was struggling with. The reason someone writes a book like this is not to sell books but to cleanse themselves because they need to,” Wambach said with a shaky voice.

“If there’s one athlete that you could become for a season, who would it be?” DiVeronica prompted.

“I would become no one. I would stay myself. You could sit here and say I’d love to be Lebron James and I respect all of the people in the world, all of the guys and all of the women, that play, but I’ve never wanted to be another human being,” Wambach stated.

The last question DiVeronica asked was “the three toughest conversations you’ve ever had in your life, who were they with?”

Wambach replied, “One, when I called my mother after I got my DUI. Two, when I had to tell Sarah that I wanted a divorce and three, a conversation I had to have with myself about my past and about my life.”

The last thing Wambach said during the chat was “I’m just here to say that no-matter where you are on your journey, were all the same, we’re all on this planet doing the same thing and life is hard, really hard sometimes, but it will get better.”