Abby Wambach (left) and Sarah Huffman at ESPN the Party at WestWorld of Scottsdale on January 30, 2015, in Scottsdale, AZ. | Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for ESPN
Soccer star Abby Wambach is preparing for her final World Cup — to be played across Canada June 6 to July 5— and the New York Times caught up with the highly competitive 35-year-old to find out how she manages to balance her arduous training with everything else she's accomplished. And it turns out even getting a broken nose won't stop her, as the opening paragraph displays graphically from a May 10 exhibition soccer match.
"The Irish goalkeeper reached to punch the ball away and cracked Abby Wambach’s nose with her forearm. Wambach began to bleed profusely. Her nose tilted slightly to the left, like a weather vane."
As the Times story states later, she is "probably the most accomplished of the high-profile gay and lesbian athletes who have come out in the last two years," but she's remained fairly quiet about her personal life. For example, when she and longtime partner Sarah Huffman were married in 2013, she did it in Hawaii without much fuss — although they are proudly together at events and red carpets.
“I never felt like I had to have this huge party for myself about my sexuality,” Wambach tells the Times. “To make a party for something that I think of as normal, for me, that just didn’t seem authentic. I wanted it to be as normal as possible.”
A soccer coach wondered allowed if the passion was gone from soccer for Wambach, and she responded, candidly, noting that after she got married her priorities did change:
“As you get older, I wouldn’t say the passion leaves you, but it changes. I’ll be honest. After I got married, I definitely had a shift in emotional devotion. Forever, it was just soccer — passion, life, love. Then I got married, and I had to transfer some of my energy. I want to be my best for my country, but I also made a really big promise and choice to be the best in my marriage. That has not always been the easiest thing to manage.”
But she did not that she's "having fun again," plus she really wants to win.
“Why do you think I’ve made the career that I have in the World Cup and the Olympics?” Wambach asked. “Why do you think I score?”
She then answered her own question:
“Because people are a little bit scared,” she said, referring to the pressure. “They’re like: ‘I’m going to pump that ball up to Wambach, see what happens. I don’t want to play this little 5-yard ball, because if I pass it and it gets picked off and we get scored on, then it’s my fault.’ The nerves and stress make people play a little more direct, make them play a little ‘Let’s just pump the ball in there; this is a safer play.’ And I just make stuff happen.”