On one of my recent commutes to Atlanta, I listened to an “On Being” podcast in which Krista Tippett interviewed women’s soccer legend Abby Wambach about her new book, Wolfpack. The book made it into my Amazon cart by the end of the night! If you don’t know Abby’s name, suffice it to say that as a two-time Olympic gold medalist, co-captain of the 2015 Women’s World Cup Champion Team, and world record-holder for most international goals scored for both women and men soccer players, she is arguably one of the best soccer players of all time. Wolfpack, based on her commencement speech at Barnard College in 2018, highlights her lessons learned in leadership and eight new rules for women to claim their power and “change the game forever.”
Lots of powerful stories and truths are packed into this quick read, so expect more blog posts born out of this book to come! One of the most moving images is what Abby simply calls, “Rush and Point.” Those of us who have watched soccer know that in a ninety minute professional game, only a few goals are actually scored. What happens on the field after those goals, Abby says, is what transforms a group of individual players into a team. To the crowd, it looks like the team is celebrating the goal scorer, but what is actually happening is a celebration of every player – every pass, every block, every tackle, every practice, everyone’s sweat that made that shot possible.
Abby writes: “You will not always be the goal scorer. When you are not, you better be rushing toward her. Sometimes you will be the goal scorer….If you watch footage of any of [my] goals, you’ll see that the moment after I score, I begin to point.
I point to the teammate who assisted.
I point to the defender who protected us.
I point to the midfielder who ran tirelessly.
I point to the coach who dreamed up this play.
I point to the bench player who willed this moment into existence.
I’ve never scored a goal in my life without getting a pass from someone else. Every goal I’ve ever scored belonged to my entire team. When you score, you better start pointing.”[i]
Abby goes on to explain what rushing and pointing looks like off of the field. It means that we amplify each other’s voices and celebrate each other’s successes. We demand seats that the table for all women and all voices that are marginalized. We express gratitude for those who contribute to our successes and support others in their own rise to success. We celebrate that the win of one woman is a collective triumph for all women.
Who do you need to rush toward today, to affirm and encourage and uplift? And as you live your best life, to whom do you point? Who supports your thriving? May we all be the kind of leaders who rush and point.
Julie Long is
associate director of Baptist Women in Ministry.
[i] Abby Wambach, Wolfpack, page 56-57.