Monday, July 21, 2008

Abby press call

Abby Wambach is explaining the surgery on her leg. It's actually a little gross to hear about the titanium rod screwed into her leg. Surgeons are really just body carpenters.
She says she realized in the moment she hit her leg that it was broken, that her Olympic dream was over. She also believes that the team will do well. She wasn't panicked about her injury because of that faith. "It takes a whole team," she says.
She expresses her thanks to supportive friends and family and says she is proud of how her teammates responded. She said she told Kai to score and she was proud Kai responded.
Abby is asked about rehab. She says she just left her house today. Her mom was on a plane to LA soon after she saw the injury on TV. This morning she had her first rehab session with Athlete's Performance at the Home Depot Center today. Abby spends some time thanking her doctors for all their help.
Abby was in the ambulance asking for her stats on everything, blood pressure, heart rate, glucose level - she's an info freak. She's been on her couch mostly, though. She also admits to not being an easy patient, not liking to get help.
Abby is asked why she didn't scream in pain upon the break. She says she hasn't seen the hit. She says she thinks her experience and competitiveness helped. She didn't want to negatively affect the team by making a scene. She wanted to set an example for her teammates. She told the trainers, when they ran onto the field, that her leg was fractured. She was scared - she'd never ridden in an ambulance before. "Maybe I have a high pain threshold. I get that from my mom, I'm sure."
Abby then explains she was trying to shoot the ball, was surprised that the defender was able to get in so close so fast.
"I play one way. I'm not a player who will take it easy." She explains that she broke her toe before the World Cup. Abby then thanks her hometown reporter for the flowers she was sent.
Abby figures she will be playing in the new pro league in the spring. She recalls the excitement of leaving for the Olympic game. She says she doesn't feel sorry for herself, though she has cried tears over the injury.
"I'm not going to cry victim. No, I don't choose to break my leg, but I choose to be on this team and that means things like injuries sometimes."
Abby called Lauren Cheney from the hospital and told her to get ready for the Olympics.
"What's important is that the team is ready to win this medal they've worked so hard and long for."
Prior injuries are the broken toe and badly sprained ankle. Never invasive surgery. Abby is trying to take it one day at a time. She appreciated the game in a whole new way now. She plans to watch the games with other injured players. She intends to grow from this experience.
"There's not question in my mind whether or not I'm going to make a comeback - it's just a matter of time. I want to come back and be great again." Abby says she's ready for the hard work that will involve. She's aware of her responsibility as a role model in dealing with challenges and wants to be inspired by that.
She wants to show kids how to react when things get tough. She vows to come back.
"Face of team" Abby is called when she's asked to name three players who people should look out for. Abby says she can name 18.
"They have to play together. They have to lean on each other." Abby says that is the message of her injury. Every one of the 18 players have to work harder and dedicate themselves to each other more. She's excited to see it.
"Amy Rodriguez has proven herself as a person who can come off the bench and score goals, and now we see if she can do it starting a game." Abby mentions the experience of ARod and Cheney, even though they're young. "They're all capable of scoring goals." Abby mentions Pia's coaching and says, "That's the beauty of it - so many more people are involved."
I love how Abby informs the reporters that "the medical community has gone away from casting whenever possible", explaining she is on crutches, but has no cast on. She wants to take her time with the recovery.
Pia's words to Abby after the injury; "Aside from being my head coach, she felt for me, considering the timing. She was upset for me."
Abby mentions that two longtime teammates, Kate and Christie, were "devastated" for her.
Abby says that partly due to the results of '07, she really dedicated herself to preparation and her teammates know it. "They're bummed to be going over there without me on a friendship basis."
Abby mentions her love and respect for her teammates. She says she expects to see a special performance from them at the Olympics.
She doesn't expect to be replaced - she expects the gap to be filled. "No one is as loud as I am, but they lead differently."
Abby is asked about how offense revolved around her before. "Absolutely," Abby thinks her absence forces the possession game on her team. She thinks they can and will do it.
I ask Abby about whether or not the other team players out of the Olympics have gotten together to commiserate. She says yes and gives examples. Abby says that when she got home from the hospital, Cat had sent an edible arrangement of fruit and Abby was hungry and basically demolished it. Leslie Osborne was at the game, came over while Abby was being put in the ambulance and went to the hospital later. Abby and Leslie plan to watch the team's games together. The camaraderie among the players left behind has grown.
Abby also says she doesn't expect to be doing TV commentary. Jokes that camera adds ten pounds.
In her closing statement, Abby pleads with the press not to view the team as struck with a fatal blow due to her injury. Praises the team's talent and says that the media, as ambassadors of the sport, owe it to everyone to show the full picture of the team as they set out on their Olympic quest.
Look for the podcast of the call on U.S. Soccer's website later.


ghostwriter said...

She's such a warrior spirit. Gives her blind spots for sure, but this is the kind of suck-it-up leadership role she was made for. Her absolute confidence in the team has got to bolster morale. I give her full props on this one.

Thanks for the report, AC.

Coach said...

Going out and playing with the reckless abandon Abby did, thereby not really putting the team first due to the consequences, in a meaningless friendly the game before the Olympics, to me was just a little bit selfish, not leadership.

Yes, I understand that's how she plays the game but ... take a look at the recklessness of that play & previous plays in the first 30 minutes again.

Self preservation was the order of the day for that game and if Coach Pia didn't indicate that prior to these 2 games, she should have.

Abby wanted #100 in front of the home fans.

If I'm Coach Pia, I'm extremely pissed!


ghostwriter said...

While my comment earlier had to do with her post injury performance, I'm not sure I agree here, coach, that Abby was being selfish with her style of play.

I see your point, for sure, but how often have you seen injuries happen precisely due to less than full commitment instead of playing your normal style? Happens with some frequency in our "other" sport, hockey. Back off, get passive, get hurt.

As Abby explains in the interview, she was trying to shoot and misjudged the closure rate of the d'man. I've seen the play (but not the rest of the game, which I know is part of your consideration) and that looks plausible to me. "Stuff" happens, and (according to that noted Irish philosopher, Murphy) always at the worst possible time.

In the last "tune up" before a big event, you gotta play to win if you're gonna play at all. I fault neither coach nor player. Just bad damn luck.


Coach said...

Finally, I generated some discussion here!

I was sure my "conspiracy theory" comment a couple days ago would generate something!Not a thing! ;)

I of course agree with you Ghost regarding getting too passive, sitting back, etc. as that is indeed when players tend to get injured. What I was suggesting is that Abby should have stuck to her "normal" style of play.

Abby appeared to turn it up several notches on the aggressive front for this game and that, IMO, should have been saved for the Olympics. Not completely selfish, just a little selfish as she wanted to notch #100.

So I'm not saying she should have played passive or laid back, I'm suggesting she should not have turned it up several notches in order to score that goal until next month. If it happened during this game, which it likely would have, it happens.

You must pick your spots & these games required some smart play to lessen the odds of this sort of "accident" happening, without backing off and becoming passive.

Going full speed into a solid defender who is also going full speed is not smart play. I also believe that defender backed off at the last second so that she would come out of it better then Abby? Only she knows for sure but that was smart if she did?

Abby usually comes out on top in these situations but not this time.

I will acknowledge it can be a very fine line out there but I believe Abby crossed it in this game.

With dire, unfortunate consequences for Abby AND the TEAM & us amazing fans!

I remain convinced this team will turn it on next month like we've never seen before (crosses fingers), not just for Abby but for themselves AND us FANS!

Some teams tend to do this when one of their stars get hurt & I remain convinced this team is one of them.

Time will tell. Kai, A-Rod & L.C will step up, the mid-field will possess like never beefore & the defence, led by none other than Ms Hope Solo, will provide clean sheets EVERY game! ;

Where's CC on the WNT!

Next Monday maybe? ;)

Coach said...

I just read the quote sheet from Abby & I have to admit ...


I haven't watched the podcast yet. Either Abby was very well "coached" by Mr. Heifetz etal or Abby has done one heck of a lot of growing as a person since the World Cup fiasco last September!

I prefer to choose the latter ... well done Ms. Abby Wambach!

I again would like to wish you a very speedy recovery & wish you the best for whatever the future may hold! Godspeed in your recovery!

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Tell me, everyone, if Wambach is such a team leader, then why does Christie Rampone wear the captain's armband -- and has since Pia Sundhage's appointment?

For Wambach to talk about "team spirit" after leading an attempt to bully and ostracize another human being merely for making a mistake in the heat of the moment and under emotional duress is nauseating and hypocritical. So are her comments about knowing what it takes to win a gold medal, since she obviously didn't know how to do that in China when confronted with a divisive situation.

I hope Wambach uses her rehab time wisely to reflect on the kind of person she is.

Coach, you make great points about Wambach's selfishness. Remember, this was the same woman who dumped on Solo because that whole situation served as a "distraction" to her WWC preparation. True professionals -- and emotionally mature people -- do not allow themselves to be so distracted.

ghostwriter said...


Can't dispute that Abby was reckless, but she often plays with disregard for, shall we say, contact consequences, for her or the opposition (and she can be pretty free with the elbows also). I just thought that particular play was not so much reckless as a missed judgment. Since she was trying to shoot hard at the end of a run, I'm guessing she got a bit "ball bound" and sort of was guilty of crossing the blue line with her head down and Scott Stevens on the ice, you know what I mean?

I don't think she was coached on this interview (maybe that's naive) but I think this is Abby saying, "OK this is how a player should react to adversity", not by whining to the press about coaching decisions and seemingly trashing teammates, but being stoic at the time of the event and later saying I'm only one person, the rest of the squad is terrific and will pull through without me... you know, all the "right" stuff.

That warior spirit though, makes everything too black and white. With Hope, she failed to accord any weight to Hope's unresolved grief issues about her Dad and best friend that caused her to transfer so much importance to HER playing (and winning) the tournament. I never thought Hope was without blame, just understandable blame, and that allowances needed to be made for the emotional meltdown that happened to her. I also always thought that was the coach's job to do. It was his idiot decision in the first place and he needed to "own" it and the fall out and make sure Hope was dealt with more reasonably than happened.

Abby's not built that way. She never gives nor asks any quarter, emotionally or physically. It's a fault; a blind spot. And I'm pretty sure she sees little difference in her situation and Hope's. As far as she's concerned both had dreams dashed by random events: a coaching decision and a run of play injury. Either way, in her code, you suck it up, shut up, and pull for the rest of the team. If you have problems, deal with them. Get help if you need it, but leave the team out of it. And if you don't, the hell with you, you deserve whatever falls out. It's kind of a personal "zero tolerance" policy. I don't agree with that, but, if I am right about where it comes from, I understand it.

And Joe, I won't go through the whole deal again. You have your view, based apparently on a unique identification with Hope (which I respect), and assumptions about Abby's motives (that I don't share). I think that much negative emotion about the past is a burden to you, but I know nothing will change your opinions. So, let me offer personal condolances for whatever you went through and hope that life's treating you better these days, but I'll not discuss it further here.


PS Abby does not wear the captain's band for the same reason Mia did not. They have no patience with mistakes and have a tendency to "bark" at everybody (just like they do themselves) about them. Very bad characteristic in a captain, who needs to kick some and stroke others. Both Mia and Abby were/are long on kick, short on stroke. Rampone, on the other hand, seems to have the whole package and Pia saw it early on.

Anonymous said...

Joe - Let's compare how Wambach and Solo have handled adversity. Solo thought about herself and didn't give a rip about the team. Wambach thought immediately about the team and didn't allow herself to fall apart on the field when her leg was hacked in two and all she has talked about since has been the team.

I'm not a Wambach apologist or even a particularly huge fan but she has handled herself light years better than Solo handled herself.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Solo thought about herself and didn't give a rip about the team. Wambach thought immediately about the team and didn't allow herself to fall apart on the field when her leg was hacked in two and all she has talked about since has been the team.

That, plus $500, will fill your gas tank.

You forget that Solo was in an emotionally vulnerable situation; she lost her father and her best friend within two months of each other and six months before the WWC. Her father suffered from cancer before his death and dedicated the run-up to the WWC and the tournament itself to him.

Wambach, OTOH, acted in a callous, conspiratorial manner w/the rest of her teammates (especially Kristine Lilly, the so-called captain) not only to "punish" Solo for the capital offense of speaking one's mind in the heat of the moment under emotional duress. Read this from the Sports Illustrated story on Solo:

Wambach stands by the decision to keep Solo off the squad for the third-place match ("It would have affected my ability to prepare for the game," she says)...

Being so co-dependent on another player's mistake is professional?

If Wambach's "experience" -- and, more to the point, Kristine Lilly's -- were all that meaningful, then they would have rallied the team in a positive manner after the 4-0 loss to Brazil. Instead, they went after an emotionally vulnerable person, shunned her and let her twist in the wind for the mortal sin of speaking her mind in an unguarded fashion.

The whole incident told me that the entire team was against Solo for something that had nothing to do with her remarks. It was a fundamental personality conflict that the other players weren't mature enough to handle; Solo's remarks had nothing to do with it.

Frankly, I don't give a damn about Wambach's "stoic" attitude. I'll respect her when she develops some empathy and compassion for other people. Until then, she can sod off and enjoy the WPS -- if that ever gets off the ground.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

One final point:

Wambach, Lilly, et al conspired against Solo to protect the worthless posterior of an incompetent, Greg Ryan. And Ryan encouraged this!

You can't disconnect Wambach, Lilly, et al from Ryan in this shameful episode. They acted in consort.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

OK, this is my final point:

Why don't I show empathy and compassion for Wambach? Because bullies and abusers don't deserve either; they deserve a wake-up call and a swift kick in the ass. I hope her injury means that Wambach got both.

Coach said...


All very, very good points.

On all sides of the equation.


WOOT! :)

Anonymous said...

Joe - Obviously it would take a team of therapists to help you work out your issues with this situation. Take a deep breath man. That hate and bitterness hurts no one but you.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

anonymous, regardless of my personal situation, what I presented was a fair interpretation of the facts. Acting like a leader does not mean overblowing a situation the way the WNT did w/Solo, especially when she as emotionally vulnerable as she was. Her "punishment" did not fit her "crime." Not by a long shot.

If Wambach or Lilly ever find themselves in the same situation as Solo, I hope they receive the same treatment that they gave her. Maybe that will teach them something.

Anonymous said...

Joe - problem with your theory is that you don't know all the facts. You know what Hope has whined about to the press and little else. Her teammates have had more respect for her and have continued to keep their mouths shut for the most part.

Also, I don't think she gets a pass because she was emotionally vulnerable. We all have to deal with death and disappointment in our lives. Doesn't excuse us from the consequences of our actions.

The WC was not all about Hope anymore than these Olympics are all about Abby. They are about a team trying to win gold and you do what is best for the team regardless of what is going on in your personal life.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

anonymous, all I know is what I read but that's been pretty extensive. You are making the logical mistake of equating something done in the heat of the moment and under emotional duress -- and, really, Solo's remarks weren't all that significant -- with something done in a conspiratorial fashion with malice of forethought (Ryan, Wambach, Lilly, et al).

The WNT's collective response to Solo's offhand remarks was beyond petty. It was vindictive. It went beyond disciplining behavior and crossed the line into attempting to destroy someone's spirit. Come on, do you really think that Solo's remarks deserved all that "punishment"?

The whole thing smacked of a bunch of spoiled children wanting to get back at somebody they don't like because she's not like them.

I guess you easily buy the P.R. bilge about Wambach. Fine. That's your choice. Don't expect me or anybody who has more than two functioning brain cells to do the same.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

We all have to deal with death and disappointment in our lives. Doesn't excuse us from the consequences of our actions.

anonymous, I guess you've never lost a loved one, have you, let alone a parent and a best friend in the span of two months? When you have, come back and talk to me.

BTW, you don't play for the WNT, do you? You're not Abby Wambach, are you? Why don't you have the guts to stand behind your comments?

Coach said...

Sorry ANON, got to agree with Joe and the points he has made vs. the points you have made on this one!


Coach said...

Have a read of this Zeigler article!



Coach said...

“An oxygen vampire,” one person close to the team called her. “She walks in and sucks the air out of the room.”

Gotta love that one! ;)

Too bad the author of this one doesn't have the gonads (or w/e!) to stand behind it!

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Coach, I read the piece. Here's the clincher:

They are losing one of the most prolific scorers in soccer, certainly, but they are also losing an abrasive, in-your-face, often overbearing persona – Wambach fully admits she is “loud” – that unintentionally may have suffocated the development of a post-Hamm generation of players.

Translation: Wambach is a bully who gets her jollies by intimidating others.

Coach, if Wambach really is that way, then I can understand the anonymous criticism. What a maroon!

Coach said...

Yes Joe, I can totally understand why whoever made that comment would want to remain anon. Don't agree with it, but understand it.

Like Abby, I have a bit of that in-your-face personality myself. I'll bet none of you have noticed! lol

As does Hope Sole.

There-in lies , in part anyhow, the reason for what has transpired. As has been said many times, a personality clash of sorts. Residency makes this more difficult.

People that are alike don't tend to get along all that well, but they usually do respect each other.