You’ve never met me, so you might think it’s weird when I tell you that you have become an important member of my family. We see you every day. Well, not exactly you, but a humongous, life size picture of you that hangs in the middle of my daughter’s room. She loves your heady play and aggressive approach to the game.
When I tuck her in at night, we often look at all the things she has pinned on the corkboard next to her bed. It’s dominated with bios, the roster and clippings about your U.S. women’s national soccer team that won the World Cup in 2015. She reads through them and talks about which players she wants to emulate …. and a lot of times it’s you.
Which is why when I saw the news of your arrest, I felt a sick feeling in my stomach. The feeling you get when your core gets rocked a little bit; when something you believe turns out to be quite different … and not a good different.
But then I caught myself. Yes, you did something wrong. Drinking and driving is a choice I tell my child she must never make. And you, her role model, did. Seeing your mugshot on TV felt, for a minute, like a personal betrayal – even though we’ve never met. I’m used to reading about male athletes, who seem like they are in the news nearly every day now – rape, drugs, guns, you name it. I’m almost desensitized to them messing up. But it’s not too often our female stars have such problems. My first reaction was: how could you? And then you did something that made me value you even more. You spoke up about your mistake, you took the incident to heart and owned it. You didn’t deny it, blame it on anyone, or try to hide the facts. I remember reading that next morning the apology you posted on social media, it was so real and unabashed. I’m sure this hasn’t been an easy time for you. I recently read that you spoke at the University of Arkansas and again you took it upon yourself to talk about it.
“Everything that’s happened over the last couple of weeks, I’ve deserved,” you said.
I just wanted to tell you that I am still in your corner and you are alive and well in my daughter’s room, your life size photo, that is. Watching how you’ve handled your situation, if anything, has just made me respect you even more. I’m not sure yet if I will tell my daughter what happened; she’s still pretty young. But if I do, you can be sure, she will learn the valuable lesson that how you handle yourself during the bad times is just as important as how you handle yourself in the good ones. We are all going to make mistakes in our lives; that’s a given. But how you deal with your mistake is what shows your true character.
Thanks, Abby for continuing to be a role model in our house!
(In April former Olympic and National Team soccer star Abby Wambach pleaded guilty to DUI for an in incident in Portland, Oregon).