CLASS OF 2019: Abby Wambach's Impact Forever Etched in History
She told us to forget her.
In that stirring Gatorade commercial she made upon her retirement, Abby Wambach told us to forget her name, her number and everything about her, forget she ever existed.
We can’t just forget 184 goals, some of them even more dramatic than the most optimistic fan can imagine. We can’t dismiss the images of you diving for headers or putting some piece of your body in harm’s way for a goal that would change a game.
You don’t really expect us to forget that goal against Brazil in a wild 2011 World Cup quarterfinal. You know, that header in the 122nd minute to send the game to penalties and the team to the semifinals. You remember that one, right? It won an ESPY for the Best Play of the Year.
And it’s not easy to forget your performance in the London Olympics in 2012 when you refused to let your team lose to Canada in the semifinals and went home three days later with your second Olympic Gold Medal.
It’s not likely we will forget how you brought the FIFA World Player of the Year Award home in 2012 after a 10-year absence. Or how you grabbed the baton from the previous generation and not only kept important Women’s National Team traditions alive but became the articulate spokesperson the sport needed at that moment in time. And we won’t forget how happy the nation was when you finally got your World Cup medal in 2015.
No. We’re not going to forget. It’s rather difficult to forget someone who in 2015 was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. We will remember that you were named the Women’s Sports Foundation Woman of the Year and the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year in 2011.
It was a nice thought, though. You wanted us to forget because that meant the work was done, the sport had arrived. You said the day you are forgotten will be the day we’ve succeeded. The sentiment reminded all of us that your eyes have always been firmly set on the bigger picture, the future of the women’s game, and not distracted by the glory of a Hall of Fame career.
We will remember how you recognized the opportunity you had, how you used your podium and spoke your mind about important issues – political, social and philanthropic.
And how can we forget what you said when you walked away from soccer. It was 17 years after you won the NCAA title in your freshman year at the University of Florida. After all the concussions, the broken bones, the staples in your head, the exhilarating wins and the crushing losses, you asked us all to look for more. You wanted more for the next generation so all future generations could keep moving forward.
You really don’t want us to forget that, do you?
That’s what you really want, isn’t it? For all the little girls to have more than you did? Aren’t you telling us that we shouldn’t count on one person to move the game forward like you did?
The message is received, but forgetting you? Not likely.
Abby Wambach will be enshrined during the 2019 Induction Ceremony on September 21 at the National Soccer Hall of Fame, located at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
Hall of Fame Resume
- Forward - U.S. Women’s National Team (2001-2015), University of Florida (1998-2001)
- Currently - Author, Activist, Speaker, WOLFPACK Endeavor Leadership Program Founder
Wambach, who remains the all-time leading goal scorer in women’s international soccer, played in four World Cups and two Olympic Games while making 255 full international appearances for the United States between her National Team debut in 2001 and her final game in 2015. In those games, she scored 184 goals, putting her 26 goals ahead of the previous international and U.S. National Team scoring leader, Mia Hamm.
Wambach’s honors included being named the USSF Female Player of the year six times, (2003, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2012), the Concacaf female player of the year in 2014 and the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year in 2012. In 2013, she was named to the U.S. Women’s National Team All-Time Best XI.