In a move that left teammates and coaches stunned, Abby Wambach, star forward of the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) and Western New York Flash, announced plans to abandon her soccer career in favor of a roster spot on the WNBA’s New York Liberty.
At a press conference held Monday afternoon outside 140 Alex Bar and Grill, a gay and lesbian bar in her home town of Rochester, N.Y., Wambach said, “I can’t really explain it. I’m just tired of playing a sport where I never get to use my hands.”
The remark drew giggles and cheers from several lesbians gathered for the announcement.
The 5’11” Wambach last played basketball as a child in a recreational league in Pittsford, a Rochester suburb. Averaging two rebounds, three assists and six points per game as a nine-year-old, Wambach abandoned the court for the soccer field when she learned it was legal to score goals with her head, a move frowned upon for hoopsters.
“I was pretty good for my age back then,” said Wambach. “But my coaches were always all over me about getting technical fouls for using my header move to pop the ball in the basket instead of going for the conventional two-handed offensive rebound.”
Wambach went on to say that now, at age 33, she believes she possesses the discipline necessary to use her hands to rebound.
“Not only do I think I can give up the header move and use my hands,” said Wambach, “I’m very much looking forward to playing a sport where no kicking or heading the ball is allowed.”
Wambach will remain with the USWNT through its April 10 match against China PR in San Diego, Calif. After that, she’ll report to New York Liberty training camp on April 27 where she hopes to gain a spot as a guard on the team’s roster alongside the recently resigned Katie Smith.
When reached at his New York offices, New York Liberty general manager and head coach Bill Laimbeer said, “We’re ready to welcome Abby to the team. If nothing else, she’ll certainly help us sell some jerseys.”
Laimbeer believes Wambach’s greatest challenge will be overcoming the urge to slide-tackle opponents while dropping back on defense.
Happy April Fool’s Day!