Abby Wambach shares why she wasn’t out in her early professional soccer career

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Abby Wambach and Ali Krieger were part of the 2015 espnW: Women + Sports Summit in Dana Point, California this week, and their panel on women’s soccer covered everything from the pay gap they face as women athletes to how their team is so relatable because each player is their own individual. Team captain Abby spoke to that in a video available on ESPNW, discussing why she wasn’t out early on her in professional career:

“When the ’99ers retired in 2004 and kind of handed me the keys to the kingdom, so to speak, you know, I was short-haired, I was gay and—still am, by the way—and I didn’t want to be this person that spoke for everybody, because not everybody is homosexual on our team, and that’s okay. Especially because Mia [Hamm] was such a big marketable person for our team, that I, at times, struggled with really being out there and being truly my authentic self. And I think that over the course of over the last 10, 15 years, you’ve seen people kind of truly become who they are, for a lot of reasons, but I think that’s what makes our team so special, because we’re all so different.”

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Ali, who is also out but hasn’t talked much about it publicly, agreed that the team is full of individuals who are interested in finding the kind of sponsorships and opportunities that they believe in, because the are all looking to represent and be represented by brands that reflect who they are.

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“I have found that the more authentic you can be in your own skin—that just transcends,” Abby said. “And people can see it. People can see you’re being real and truly who you need to be.”

We love that about the United States Women’s National Team. They are true role models for young girls of all kinds—which is why they deserve way more money, respect and the kind of field they want to play on given to them. Support your local women’s soccer team!