Abby Wambach has made a career out of pursuing goals. She’s scored 184 of them after all, the most by any soccer player, male or female, in international soccer history. But now, a few years into her retirement, Wambach, who led the United States women’s team to a World Cup championship in 2015, is focused on a new kind of goal: motivating women to become leaders.
“There has never been a more important, urgent time than right now for women to begin to fully lead our own lives,” she told me this week.
In her new book, “Wolfpack,” Wambach, 38, shares lessons she learned from decades of training, failure and triumph on the field. It is based on the commencement speech she gave at Barnard College in New York last year that quickly went viral. “If I could go back and tell my younger self one thing, it would be this: ‘Abby, you were never Little Red Riding Hood; you were always the wolf,’” she told graduates.
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Her book’s release comes a month after the United States women’s team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation. While Wambach is not part of the suit, she’s been outspoken on the subject. “This isn’t just a female athlete’s story; this is every single woman’s story on planet Earth,” she said in September. “Women lose our very lives because of this pay gap inequity, and in order to get it back we have to fight.”
In “Wolfpack,” Wambach offers eight new rules to help women succeed professionally and personally. And she hopes her ideas trigger a domino effect. “When one person stands up and demands the ball, the job, the promotion, the paycheck, the microphone, that one gives others permission to do the same,” she said.
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