11 Reasons We Love U.S. Women's Soccer Star Abby Wambach
A Look at Abby Wambach's Impressive Career
Soccer phenom Abby Wambach announced her retirement from the sport yesterday, shortly after celebrating the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team's prestigious 2015 World Cup win at the White House. President Obama praised the team, saying, "They've inspired millions of girls to dream bigger and, by the way, inspired millions of boys to look at girls differently, which is just as important," Obama said. "This team taught all America's children that playing like a girl means you're a badass."
Getting called a badass by the President of the United States is crazy cool on its own, but that was just one highlight in a long string of amazing honors that Wambach, 35, earned during her 15-year career. She proved she was a powerful asset both on the field as the highest scoring forward in the game and off as the team captain. It's hard to narrow down our favorite things about the star, but here are 11.
She's a Leading Scorer
female. (That's 184 goals in 252 matches, if you're counting—and we totally are.)
She's an Olympian
Know what looks better hanging around your neck than one giant shiny gold medal? Two! Wambach was part of the gold-winning team during the 2004 games in Athens and the 2012 games in London.
She Was Punched in the Face
After a Columbian player nailed her during a 2012 Olympic match, she told us she took it as the ultimate compliment. "If [the other team is] trying to take you out of the game in an unsportsmanlike way, that means they're scared of you." The U.S. won, of course.
She's Player of the Year
In 2012, she received one of soccer's highest honors when she was named the FIFA player of the year, joining Mia Hamm as the only U.S. women to ever receive the title. (These Strong Women Are Changing the Face of Girl Power As We Know It.)
She Got Her Own Sports Illustrated Cover
And she didn't have to wear a bikini to do it. Not that there's anything wrong with wearing a swimsuit, but it was inspiring to see a cover girl being featured for her superstar athletic abilities and not just her killer bod.
Her Sportsmanship Is Legendary
Sportsmanship is her middle name. Okay, not literally—her middle name is actually Abigail (her first name is Mary)—but throughout her career, she's gone out of her way to comfort and encourage not just the players on her own team, but on other teams too. She recently participated, for instance, in a documentary about the Japanese women's team's World Cup win in 2011, when they beat the U.S. just days after their country was devastated by a tsunami.
She's Proof That Strong Is Beautiful
In 2012, she posed for ESPN's body issue, saying, "I wanted these shots to represent what we were all trying to capture, which was powerful, strong, athletics. This is a person's career and their life work right there in one picture. I want to show people that no matter who you are, no matter what body type you have, that's beautiful."
She Watches Netfix and Chills
Wambach's relentless drive may have gotten her to the top, but she stayed there for 15 years because she's just as good at resting. "We have 11 months in our season, so you have to condition and decondition so you don't injure yourself, meaning you have to get a little less fit during certain parts of the season," she told us earlier this year. "And that's something I'm really good at—I'm really good at doing nothing for a few weeks." (Us too, Abby! Call us!)
She's the Ultimate Team Player
During the World Cup—and in previous high-level games—she showed she's in it to win it and not just to earn personal accolades, sacrificing her starring starting role for the overall good of the team. "I just have this belief system, and I've talked about it my whole career, that it takes a whole team," she said to espnW
. "It's not about one person. It will never be about one person in a team sport."
Love of her country came before love of self. "Nothing made me prouder than to wear the red, white, and blue," she tweeted after her farewell announcement.
She's a Total Badass
During a 2011 World Cup match against Brazil, she jumped over four opposing players to make the game-saving goal off her head. Yeah, we'll just let the video speak for itself.