LOS ANGELES — Two-time Olympic gold medalist and former Gatorade Circle of Champions New York Player of the Year Abby Wambach was one of several professional athletes on hand for the 15th annual Gatorade Athlete of the Year Awards.
While the high school athletes recognized at the event all helped their respective schools en route to the award, the retired soccer player offered her advice, which isn’t just tied to the playing field.
“I think that in any kind of professional sport — if, obviously, that’s the goal — you have to be a well-rounded person,” she told FanRag Sports. “That’s why the Gatorade Athlete of the Year awards are so great, because these three pillars they focus on — on the field, in the classroom, in the community — you have to be good in all those places; you can’t just be good on the field. That’s why I value this award so much, because Gatorade values the people, not just the athlete. So when you look forward in five to ten years, you’re going to see some of these athletes endorsed by Gatorade.”
“They’re developing the next leaders,” she added.
Wambach was a mainstay for the United States national team following her collegiate career at Florida, with accomplishments aplenty to her credit. Whether it’s Kennedy Wesley, who won the Gatorade Athlete of the Year Award in women’s soccer, or any other female on the pitch, there’s certainly much to learn from Wambach’s journey.
“I think the things that I would say to my former self or say to these young kids, is you’re control of your own destiny,” Wambach said. “So often, you have coaches and parents that think they know more — you’re the one that has to do the running; you’re the one that has to decide what you’re putting in your body; you’re the one that has to go to class; you’re the one that has to volunteer in your community; you have to do all that work.
“If you don’t love what you do, if you don’t have the passion that’s required to do it to your best ability, to the utmost, it’s gonna show, and you won’t last. The legends of the game are the ones that actually do love it. So, find the thing that you love to do and do it, and find a way to make money during it, because then you can do it forever.”