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Abby Wambach Conference Call Quote Sheet

U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Pia Sundhage

On losing Abby Wambach for the Olympics:
“She has been a passionate player, a leader, a classy athlete and a goal scorer. For me, it’s been an honor to be her coach and she has played a significant part on the road to the Olympics. I will miss her on and off the field and I know the world will miss her. I’ve gotten emails from around the world sending their best wishes to Abby. She is a special one for sure. However, I am confident that the team will respond, step-up and bring the best out of each other. No one can replace Abby, so we will change the attacking style a little bit, but we have been able to adjust the way we’ve played at several points during this year. Our players are very brave so I think all of us will take this challenge and make the best out of it. It’s a privilege to play under pressure and we like that.”

U.S. Women’s National Team forward Abby Wambach

On her surgery to insert a titanium rod in her leg:
“The surgery went perfect. I like that word. I think that the surgery went as well as possible, but my first few days were pretty tough and there was a lot of pain.”

On her immediate thoughts after breaking her leg:
“I realized in that moment and accepted in that moment that my Olympic dreams were not going to be what I had planned. I accepted the reality of this situation. This was a deep down acceptance of my reality. A lot of the times when you freak out about stuff is when you are more unsure of reality. It was an all encompassing moment. I wasn’t freaked out.”

On her calm demeanor as she was being carted off the field:
“A lot has to do with my experience with this team and my competitiveness. I surely didn’t want to affect the competitiveness on the field. I know what it takes to win a gold medal and I know that one person isn’t going to be the answer. I want to set the example for my teammates, to see on my face, that whether or not I’m on the field no matter who it is we’re playing, that we can win on any given day. I accepted that I knew what was going on. I guess I am proud of the way I reacted because it was truly the way I felt. I was only scared because I had never experienced that before or ridden in an ambulance. The most important thing at that moment was winning the game and showing my teammates by example that they have to lean on each other a little bit more to get that gold medal that we’ve been desperately training for over the months.”

Her thoughts on the injury and looking back over the past few days:
“It made me realize even more how insignificant one player is in a team environment. It really does take a team to win a championship. I can’t express my thanks enough to the outreach from people from all different walks of life. I am really appreciative of the support that I have, the country that I represent, and I am proud of my teammates. This is kind of an occupational hazard and we all take the risk, knowing that this is possible every time we step onto the field. That’s sports. It’s the risk you take when you lace up your boots. I play one way and there’s no other way to explain it. I’m not going to take it easy just because it’s the last game before the Olympics.”

On starting rehabilitation process:
“This morning I drove to The Home Depot Center (in Carson, Calif.) to have my first rehab session. I can’t say enough about the training and coaching staffs making things run really smoothly for me throughout the entire experience. I want to be proactive about my rehab and recovery. Dr. Damion Valletta made it so possible for me to feel comfortable. I can’t express enough thanks for him doing the surgery… You got to take it one step at a time no matter the recovery time you are looking at. I’m proud of who I am, and I’m glad to be alive with a circumstance that I will learn from and grow from. I’m fine sitting in this chair with my leg propped up above my heart… I want to take it slow but first and foremost, I want to walk around with this leg for the rest of my life so I want to make sure I do it right the first time.”

On her thoughts about the team getting on a plane to China without her:
“I get fired up for [my teammates]. I know what it’s like to be a part of the U.S. Olympic team. It’s exciting, invigorating, and prideful. You are proud of yourself for that journey. I am proud of my teammates and the accomplishments that they have achieved this year. Do I feel sorry for myself about this accident? Not for one second. This is very bad timing but this is what my life has shown me and these are the cards that I’ve been dealt. I think for the experience factor, in terms of being there with my friends and training for so long, all of the sacrifices in terms of preparing for this event; those are what weigh down on me. Yes, I choose to be on this team and with that comes injuries and hard times. With those hard times it’s when your character really shines through.”

On calling Lauren Cheney, her replacement on the Olympic roster:
“I called Lauren Cheney from the hospital, ‘You got to get your shoes out and start running because when you’re told that you were a possibility and now it’s a reality, I want you to go there and not feel bad about being selected in this type of way. It won’t do you any good or this team any good.’ Ultimately, it will not make the team perform better. What’s important is that the team going into this tournament is feeling that they can win this. At the end of the day, that’s what makes you stand at the top podium.”

On if she can name players who will step up in her absence:
“I am not sure if I can give you three players, but I can still give you 18 who will be the leaders. This is important that right from the beginning of this experience, if nothing else … is that they have to play together, they have to lean on each other, they have to rely on each other, in both good and bad times. I think that’s the one key message that needs to be said through this injury. Will one, two, three players stand out in this Olympics? Maybe. But everyone on this team will need to dedicate themselves a little bit more to be really be successful over in Beijing. I’m really excited to see the way they reacted in the game against Brazil… None of us are replaceable; you just have to fill the gaps. The quicker you can learn how to fill that gap, the better off the team will be. Who wants to step up? It will be really special to see who will. We are going to need the entire 18 to step up, not just on the field but off of the field as well.”

On her comeback from the serious injury and if it can inspire others:
“There’s no question of whether or not I’ll come back from this, it’s more when I’ll come back. Will it take a lot of hard work and dedication, pain and suffering? Probably. But do I think about the type of role model that I can be to someone who is going through the same thing? Absolutely. We aren’t on the planet alone and whether people like to admit it or not, all we can do is learn from each other in the course of a lifetime. I sometimes struggle because I don’t find myself inspiring, because it’s just me, in my own skin. If people feel like that, then let’s use this as another experience to give them a gauge in how to react in tough situations, give them a platform as a possibility. Anytime you can learn from something. What I want the younger generation to feel and see from this, first and foremost, is that I’m coming back from this.”

On her chat with Pia Sundhage:
“Pia and I have a special relationship. Off of the field is more important than off of the field. I think she felt on a personal level, aside from being the head coach of my team, she was pissed for me. It was so honest and so truthful. I saw her two days ago and she came to me house. We sat and talked for a while. She’s a realistic person. She knows that it was an accident that may never be explained. You just have to live with it and deal with it. She is great. She isn’t going to feel sorry for me but she sure feels for me. I appreciate people who feel for me and not sorry for me.”

On the support from her teammates:
“Some of the older players have seen me in past world championships and they have seen me more dedicated this time around. They were generally crushed for me. They knew how much I put into this and how important it was to me. The truth is the team will still play. They will still go to China and participate in the Olympics, and get a chance to win a gold medal. That’s the beauty of this all. They are bummed on a friendship basis, but it is what it is and I can’t change it. There’s no sense of trying because it’s just not possible. The support has been great. I love my teammates so much and I respect them all so much. I just can’t wait to see them perform under the circumstances and in the Olympics. It’s going to be pretty sweet and special because we are going to watch something really special happen.”

Final words:
“It’s going to be important not to forget about this team because one of their star players has gone down…. This team is special. I am a component of this team. I am a moving part of this team, and I do not encapsulate this whole team. With the missing parts, the bus moves a little bit differently but there’s no doubt that this team can win a gold medal. They have to play with passion and ultimately with honor. This can happen with this team. You just have to open your eyes. I will be proud to see them win a gold medal. I am going to be fine, this team is going to be fine and I hope that our team can bring home gold for this country.”