This is the summer of Abby for me.
I find myself thinking about her at the strangest of times. At first this obsession seemed like it was a crush. It felt weird and long ago like puppy love even. Abby Wambach makes my heart soar a little. This summer she was part of the U.S. Womens’ National Team that won the World Cup. Those ladies were all amazing. Pinoe with her crazy heart and Alex Morgan with her break it open speed. Hope Solo with her calm “I got this” presence. Carli Lloyd and Tobin Heath, the fierce Jersey Girls- I was/am one of those. I played field hockey, not soccer. And that defense. You have to really know sports to know what defense means. Klingenberg and Krieger. Johnston and Sauerbrunn. They were like roots. Without roots there is no use for wings. This USWNT was deeply rooted and they soared.
But Abby Wambach is something different for me. Perhaps it is because I do not think she would want it to be this way. She is part of the team. She sees that as the highest honor. The best expression of her strength. She sees joining these women and believing in the win until it happens as far bigger than her alone. I played sports for that reason. A state championship team in softball. During the final game, I stood behind the catcher, who had so ably taken my position because of a season ending injury. I stood rubbing a cramp out of her throwing shoulder because she needed to be able to gun out the runners who could steal bases on the other team. And, I was…happy. I did not get to actually call pitches or approach the plate in clutch situations, but I was happy because I was part of something larger than myself. Not easy to do. To join many different people together to conquer another team, to conquer the sometimes unbeautiful in ourselves.
This time, Abby did not play every minute. But I know she played every minute. I can’t be totally sure of this fact because we are not friends. (Although I wish the friends part with all my heart.) She played every minute I think in her heart, with her presence. I imagine that she rubbed shoulders and cheered attacks. From where she sat, she ran beside her teammates. And now it seems that all anyone wants to know is if she will play in next year’s Olympics. But, what they maybe don’t see is all of the lifting and miles and stretching and drills and turf toe and turf burn that go with the answer, “Yes. I will play.”
I see it Abby.
This has been the summer of Abby for me. Some of that has definitely been crush. But, mostly Abby has reawakened in this post-C section, me-as-an athlete-doubting self, a memory, a desire even to be the athletic me again. When I watch Abby, I remember me- the athlete.
So in this, my summer of Abby, I want to say, “Thank you #20!”
Now when people ask me if I am going to, my answer, “Yes. I will play.”