Abby Wambach to Come to Smith: Soccer Team Celebrates Announcement

Photo courtesy by Gigi Ross '16 | This year, a large cutout of Abby Wambach's head has become an "unofficial mascot" of the Smith Soccer Team.

Photo courtesy by Gigi Ross ’16 | This year, a large cutout of Abby Wambach’s head has become an “unofficial mascot” of the Smith Soccer Team.

Veronica Brown ’16
Associate Editor

This Rally Day, the Smith Soccer Team was particularly excited to hear President Kathleen McCartney announce U.S. soccer player Abby Wambach as one of the 2016 honorary degree recipients.

Students who attended Rally Day or Convocation may remember seeing a large cutout of Wambach’s head carried by the soccer team. GiGi Ross ’16 and Olivia Mallari ’16 got the idea to create the cutout after the U.S. team won the World Cup in 2015.

“We brought her to all of our games this season as well, so she’s become a sort of mascot for our team,” said Ross and Mallari.

“Abby has always been a role model … both on and off the pitch,” said Ross and Mallari. Wambach has won the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year award six times as well as the FIFA World Player of the Year and two Olympic medals. With 184 career goals, Wambach holds the world record as the highest all-time scorer for both men and women.

Ross and Mallari also called Wambach “an advocate for equality between the men’s and women’s game and beyond it.” Wambach and several of her teammates filed a gender discrimination complaint before the 2015 World Cup because the men’s tournament was played on real grass, but the women’s event was played on astroturf, which is more likely to injure players.

Wambach spurred a social media frenzy when she kissed her wife after winning the World Cup. “I feel so lucky because, when I was first on the team, there was really no gay people on the team,” Wambach told Out Magazine in Dec. 2015. “And now you see this eclectic group of people that come from all different places and are different colors and have different preferences. For me, that’s something I’m most proud of.”

The Smith players were in a state of disbelief when McCartney announced Wambach’s name among the honorary degree recipients.

“I started running with the Abby head the second I heard ‘two time olympic gold medalist,’” said Lily Eriksen ’16. “I was halfway across the JMG in a state of pure elation when I heard her say Abby Wambach”

“Ecstatic would be an understatement,” said Ross and Mallari. “We couldn’t contain ourselves as we did a lap around JMG with the Abby head.”

Wambach retired from soccer following the 2015 World Cup. “She just retired, and we, during commencement week, will be facing the same thing,” said Eriksen. “Honestly, I cannot think of a more poetic way to go out!”

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