I love soccer – I’ve been playing it on and off for 30 years – and I especially love women’s soccer. I went to five World Cup matches up in Vancouver Canada last year, including the final, where the USWNT beat Japan 5-2. I have season tickets to the National Women’s Soccer League Seattle Reign (who still have a chance to make the playoffs this year!), and attended the USWNT victory tour match in Seattle last fall. When I learned Ms. Wambach was going to write a book about her life, I knew it was going to be a must read.
Ms. Wambach and I are the same age, but other than both playing soccer and being white women, we don’t have much else in common. She has an intensity that I can’t even begin to imagine, which makes sense – it seems fairly necessary to become elite in any field, especially one as demanding as athletics. For most of her life, she seems to have taken the concept of ‘work hard, play hard’ to the extremes, mainly through either strict adherence to training while in the middle of camps, or through serious ingestion of alcohol and pills. She remains the record holder (male or female) of most international goals, but she is also known for the DUI she received in Portland just a few months after retirement.
There is a brutality to this book that should make it a challenging read, but instead I devoured it. The fuel to turn the pages wasn’t so much born out of a desire to see what next ridiculous high or painful low was going to follow; instead I was genuinely interested in how Ms. Wambach was going to both explain and handle her life experiences. Would she be full of excuses? Philosophical? Would she only barely mention the more challenging parts of her story?
No, she was just honest. She sometimes looks like the hero (as she should), and sometimes she is epically fucking up. She is ultimately human, and I feel like we could only get this story from someone who is no longer in the field, especially if the story is coming from a woman. As we’ve seen latelywith Hope Solo being fired for calling the Swedish team ‘cowards’ (something Cristiano Ronaldo essentially did regarding Iceland to zero consequence), women get a whole lot of negative attention when they don’t fit into the mold we’ve created to represent what it means to be a woman in the public eye.
I don’t think you need to be a soccer fan to enjoy this read, so if you are curious at all, I recommend it.