Like so many others, I loved watching the Women’s World Cup and was deeply moved by the United States team’s decisive triumph on Sunday night. The sea of red, white, and blue and the national anthem all felt incredibly fitting at the end of the Fourth of July weekend, but more than anything, I was wowed by the athletes.
Yes, by their ferocious play. By how they didn’t give up. By their clear orientation towards teamwork. I love what I read (and I can’t remember where) about someone asking one of the women what their “secret” was, and her response that “My secret is I’ve trained my butt off for 12 years.” Amen to that.
I loved how after the win the team went and stood in front of the section of the stadium that clearly held their families. They had tears and delight in their eyes as they danced, wept, and pointed up to their loved ones who’d been watching. Abby Wambach kissed her wife, who leaned over so perilously I worried for a sec she’d fall. It was abundantly clear to me that the US women wanted to celebrate first with each other (and I love all the photographs of them hugging, in huge groups) and immediately after, with their families. I loved the way there was no drama about the way the two elder statesmen of the team were the ones to hoist the cup. The person who won the game with her three goals (Carli Lloyd) and the big names on the team (Alex Morgan, Hope Solo) walked to the podium without complaint or hesitation, leaving the honors to the women who’d been on the team the longest, Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone.
I loved the clear dedication and loyalty I saw between each and every member of the team. I mentioned to Grace that I loved the way the team looked communicating with their families. She agreed, but added, “Well, I also liked how whenever someone from USA or Japan tripped each other or collided that patted each other on the back. They just seemed really respectful.” And how.
I’m hardly the only mother in America who’s jubilant at these newly-famous role models for our children. My friend Kennedy wrote this on Facebook, and it brought tears to my eyes.
And now I coach my daughter, who is one of 2 million girls in the US who play soccer. Hopefully her heroes will be Carli Lloyd and Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan, who talk all about team, and sacrifice, and hard work. They are elite, awesome athletes who don’t get red cards, don’t whine, don’t dive, don’t scream or curse on TV. They play their asses off, they pick each other up, and they never stop fighting.
They are truly wonderful representatives for our country.
And now, today, they are champions of the world.
The only thing that marred the final match for me was the Robert Palmer girls who came out at the end, holding trays of medals. After such a fantastic, triumphant celebration of what womens’ bodies can do, it felt jarring and incongruous to observe this focus on what womens’ bodies look like. I watched the women in tight, short black dresses and high heels mince onto the field with a fair amount of shock. I know I’m not the only person who note this.
Let’s change that, FIFA. Grace may not be playing soccer anymore, but I’m thrilled at what these women represent for both she and Whit and for all of our children (and adults!): the value of teamwork, respect, hard work, and never giving up. #likeagirl, indeed.