Building a wolfpack: Abby Wambach speaks on unity and feminism

Gracia Hmelar, Managing Editor

The Performing Arts Center at Palo Alto High School was full of laughter and enthusiasm Tuesday evening as two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion Abby Wambach discussed her new book “WOLFPACK: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game.”

Photo: Margaret Li

Wambach was joined by her ex-teammate and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brandi Chastain, as both athletes discussed the theme of Wambach’s new book, “WOLFPACK: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game,” and what sparked her interest in writing it.

Wambach recalled a story shortly after retiring where she attended the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards. Winning the Icon award, along famed Basketball player Kobe Bryant and football star Peyton Manning and how she felt both happy and angry, realizing the financial differences between her retirement and that of the male athlete’s next to her.

“I just remember being in my hotel room that night and wondering why I couldn’t feel happy, because as a national team player you represent your country, and winning gold medals. So I thought of myself as this elite player, yet this night I couldn’t help feel like every single woman everywhere,” Wambach said. “My story is every woman’s story, so it was that night I decided I was going to dedicate the rest of my life to make sure this would never happen to Alex Morgan or any other female athlete. This book is my small attempt to solve the inequalities that are happening in our world.”

One topic discussed was the recent lawsuit filed by the US women’s soccer team against U.S soccer for gender discrimination. Wambach noted how unlike the Major League Soccer, the men’s professional soccer league in the US, that when first created spent millions of dollars every year funding a foundation that would succeed, there isn’t the same for a professional women’s soccer.

She reiterated the idea that the lawsuit is about more than just money, but for professional female athlete’s everywhere to gain the respect they deserve. She also asked the audience to consider the true meaning of the lawsuit, and what the team winning would mean for women everywhere.

“This is about respect, and this is about freedom,” Wambach said. “The woman’s national team depicts a sense of freedom, they rail against the stereotypical way women have to comply to how they’re perceived in society. A win for the women’s national team would also be a win for women everywhere.” 

Finally, Wambach reflected on her time on the women’s national team, leading her to reflect on the main theme of her book, the need for everyone to find their own personal Wolfpack.

“Being in the environment of other badass women is intoxicating,” Wambach said. “There’s so much competitiveness and beautiful pressure … I just think life is hard enough and we as women need to find a way to turn this power dynamic on its head, and our national team is a clear example of it proving to be successful. We were only successful because of this unity, and that’s why I wrote this book because I think all women everywhere, need to find their wolfpack.”