World Cup Champions

By Frank Workman | Jul 09, 2015

Like many Americans, I watched Sunday’s Women’s World Cup finale. I was drawn to the stars, the sport, and the spectacle.  I was intrigued by what the players on the team represent to the millions of young girls who play youth soccer,  who were glued-to-the tube rooting on their heroes.

While much of the national dialogue this week has focused on the future viability of women’s pro soccer in this country (as if that is what’s required for the sport to validate itself), I’ve been pondering the effect this championship will have on the next generation of players who were inspired by this team’s example, in the same way that this year’s team was inspired by the 1999 USA team, which was inspired, in turn, by the champions of the first WWC in 1991.

It’s not a stretch to think that local high school seniors like Maddy Schultz from Edmonds-Woodway, or Alexa Iacalucci and Sophia Viviano from Shorecrest, could someday compete for a spot on the roster of Team USA in 2023 or 2027, knowing the example has already been set locally by Shorewood’s Lori Henry, who captained the 1991 team, and Shorecrest’s Michelle Akers, who starred for the team in 1991, 1995, and 1999.

Soccer is, if nothing else, a team sport, and its true team nature was never better displayed than in the role Abby Wambach played during the tournament.

Over the years, Wambach has been the team’s star, captain, leading scorer and most recognizable face. Yet over the course of the  World Cup she was demoted from starter to substitute as the tournament wore on.

Many players, in all sports (from peewees to pros), when faced with a change in playing time, position, or place in the batting order, have been known to pout and pitch a fit, creating drama and distraction that tears at the fabric of the team.

Had Wambach done so, there might have been a celebration parade in Tokyo this week instead of in NYC’s Canyon of Heroes Friday morning.

Instead, she put the team first - as should always be the case with team sports.

There’s no question about it.

 

FtheM

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