In an alternate universe, we’d be cheering in front of our TVs right now. Because the Olympics would be on. So while we wait for Tokyo 2021, we sat down with someone who knows a thing or two about winning a gold medal: Abby Wambach. She won two while she played for the US Women’s National Team. And the soccer star hasn’t slowed down in retirement. She’s now a bestselling author and an equal pay activist.
On Self Doubt
Abby: I remember my very first practice with the National Team…. I was playing with legends. It felt like I was a rec league player. That is how that moment felt. Like, I do not belong here. Why am I here? This is absurd. What's going on?
…. The mark of somebody who can make it the distance is somebody who can handle those moments over, and over, and over, and over, and over again because truly, there is no end. People are like, "Oh, you were a veteran of the National Team for so long." I'm like, "Yeah, but I was still training every single day to be a starter." That level, the standard, never goes down. You're always pushing, you're always trying to be better than you were the day before.
…. But at the end of the day, I remember that time really fondly because that was a self-defining moment. Like, how am I going to embrace these moments of needing to level up?
On Leading From The Bench
Carly: I'm thinking about when you were benched for the 2015 World Cup. You write about that experience a lot in your book, "WOLFPACK." Walk us through it. Why were you benched? What was that like?
Abby: So this is 2015. I'm 35 at the time. I know that this is gonna be my last World Championship with the United States. And I had yet to win a World Cup…. And so this conversation with the coaching staff is like, "Okay, we want you on the field at the end of the game. If we need to push for a goal, we need you in top form. And if we need to hold a lead, we want you on the field. And in order for us to make sure you can be in the game at the end, we're going to have to bring you off the bench, right?”
…. I remember being in my hotel room that night. The game was the next day. And just really considering, because I had two options here, that I could become a good teammate, or I could become a bad teammate. I could have stood in that ego and been like, "You know what? I am good enough. And I do deserve to start." I didn't see us winning down that option…. Of course, you know, I decided to be a good teammate.
When I decide something, I decide I'm gonna become the best at it. So I decided I was gonna become the best bench player that ever played the bench in the whole wide world…. Because if you're not a good leader on the bench, you cannot call yourself a good leader on the field.
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