Wambach’s Wolfpack

Deme Apostolou, Op Ed Editor

Abby Wambach was a member of the US women’s national soccer team from 2003 to 2015. Wambach is a two time Olympic gold medalist and a six-time winner of the US Soccer Player of the Year award. Playing forward, Abby holds the world record for international goals, for both women and men, scoring 184 goals in her career.

It is irrefutable that Abby Wambach is a phenomenal soccer player, but Abby wowed the world in a new forum when she gave the commencement speech to the Barnard College class of 2018. Her address was given to the all women’s college in New York and was different than other addresses in that she focuses on the importance of teamwork.

The focus point of her speech was the story of Little Red Riding Hood.  She told the graduates that she was taught as a young girl to be just like the fictional character: to stay on the path, keep her head down and get the job done.  Looking back on her life, she says to the crowd that if she would do one thing differently it would be to not be like Little Red Riding Hood but instead to be the wolf.

Referring to women as a whole as a “wolfpack” she encourages girls to find their places in the pack and to charge the valleys demanding what is theirs. This idea was the inspiration for her new book “Wolfpack” in which she continues to empower women.

In her speech, Abby gives the recent grads four rules to success.  They are…

1. ” Make failure your fuel” 

She says that failure is a gift that athletes seem to better understand than nonathletes.  Instead of being ashamed of your failures, Wambach says you should use them to grow and power you.

2. “Lead from the bench.” 

As her career wound down Abby took a new role on the bench, but that definitely did not stop her from being the leader she had always been.  Although you are allowed to feel disappointed when passed up for an opportunity, if you can’t be the leader that your teammates need from the sideline, you aren’t a leader at all.

3. “Champion each other.” 

Instead of pinning women against each other, we need to work together and create the idea of a wolf pack for women.  Together we can reject the idea of a single seat at the table and use the power of the wolf pack to create a place for everyone.  We need to be happy in each other’s successes and see them as a win for women everywhere.

4. “Demand the ball.” 

Abby says that if we want progress, it isn’t going to come from sitting pretty and being polite. She insists we know our value and to be assertive when necessary, despite the fact that women are taught to not be too outspoken.  Women need to demand the respect that they deserve.