After months of training, a World Cup victory, and a whirlwind, cross-country press tour, US women’s soccer player Abby Wambach is ready for a vacation.
But before she could head out of town, we caught up with the world champion as she prepared to throw out the first pitch at yesterday’s Mets game. Read on for her thoughts on being a role model, her hair, and Rio 2016.
On being a role model:
"It means the world to me to be a role model, and somebody that can stand up and speak about who I am authentically, and I think it's very rare these days that you can be so good at something and popular in some ways, but still be true to yourself. That's what I pride myself on. I'm never the person that's going to be who you want me to be, I'm going to be myself 100 percent, and that's what I want to teach these kids today at Citi Field. I want the Citi Kids to learn how important it is to authentically be themselves and be proud of who you are."
On Rio 2016:
"Here's the confusion, unconfused: I don't know what I'm going to do about Rio next year in terms of deciding whether or not I'm going to go for it. In my mind, I have to believe that if I'm asked to be on the team, I don't know if I can say no, but I also know that a lot's got to happen between know and then: conversations with the coach, conversations with my family."
"When I make my decision, I'm pretty good at deciding, and pretty decisive. So if and when I make a decision, if I were to not play, I would be sure about it, but if I were to play, I would be sure about that too. So, whatever I decide, I will be happy, very very happy."
On taking a vacation:
"I get to go on vacation tomorrow. Actually, I get to go on vacation in about an hour and ten minutes, right after the first pitch. I'm heading somewhere really cool; I'm very excited about it, and I'm excited just to get away—maybe turn my phone off for two weeks, which would be amazing."
On monetizing women's soccer:
"That is the big question. How do we turn this World Cup championship into something that is real and can last, right? It was amazing during the ESPYs 'cause you see all these big-time NBA and NFL stars, and they've been able to monetize their craft and their sucess in many ways, in millions of ways. Here they are idolizing what we were just able to do. For me, the money part comes when you start transcending sport, and when you start making sport about all these cultural issues and all these social issues that we have going on. I think our team embodies a huge, big, wide demographic of people."
"I wanted to leave the game better than I found it, and I think no matter what I decide to do about Rio next year, I know that I've done that. I know that I've made this game better, and I know that we've pushed it forward. I've had amazing meetings with amazing people that want to, not just invest in women's soccer, but they want to invest in women's sports. And not because it's the 'right thing to do,' but right now, if you went to Canada and you saw what happened during the World Cup, and you saw what's happening now with some of these women and the money that's being put out to make these appearances, it's not just the right thing, it's the smart thing to do. Invest in women's soccer."
On how life has changed since winning the World Cup:
"My life's changed in a lot of ways since winning the World Cup. I think the biggest one is that I'm going to have to dye my hair back to its normal color because I get recognized way too often. I know it's going to probably die down, but I think that we really did something big, and to try to define what it is and to try and put words to it does it an injustice. I'm just so excited that we won, and I am so proud of this team, and what we were able to accomplish. It's not easy to play seven games...and to beat the rest of the world. We really are world champions."
Caroline Hallemann is the associate digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @challemann.