Soccer star Abby Wambach retired from professional gaming in 2015. She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and is a voice activist on behalf of women in sport. She wrote her own memoirs, Cheeky, five years ago – so we asked her what books she drew on sports leadership – and in fact, the first two books she brought us weren’t about sport at all. But Wambach says they definitely have lessons for leaders.
Someone’s daughter, by Ashley Ford
I think we really need to understand what leadership is. And I’ve chosen people who inspire me on and off the pitch … Ashley Ford’s book Someone’s daughter is such a moving story. And I can promise you one thing about every team I’ve been on is that every person takes care of family matters. And this book is a master class on how to love your family while living with individuality and freedom. His story is unique to him, but it also concerns each of us. I mean, it helped me get to break old family patterns and create new ones, really, because the way she talks about her family and the way she talks about the boundaries she creates. is simply breathtaking.
Save yourself, by Cameron Esposito
Cameron Esposito is one of my favorite actors in the world. But for me … I think leaders today need to understand the queer experience in America. I have seen … so much of myself in his story through this book. She fights institutional stuff with God. And Cameron’s story gave me a better understanding of why I was feeling some of the things I was feeling … because that’s really what leadership is about knowing yourself and knowing the people around. self.
I do a lot of work in the corporate space now. When I retire, I am actually a professional speaker. And one of the questions I get asked the most is, how do we understand the queer experience? How do you create safer environments for everyone who works here? And in order to create a safe experience and environment, you need to know who you are trying to create these environments for. Cameron’s story is unique and funny, but I cannot stress enough how important he is as a leader. I am an extrovert so I love to talk. And during my time as an athlete, I must have read a lot about introversion and people who don’t necessarily have the same talk time – or want the same -. And so I read the book Calm to help me understand some of my teammates. And that is really leadership. If you really want to be a great leader, you have to know the people you are trying to lead.
Be thoroughly by Christie Pearce Rampone and Dr Kristine Keane
Christie Pearce Rampone is a former teammate. We played together for almost 15 years and Dr Kristine Keane is a sports neuropsychologist. So for me now as a parent and as my kids go through the youth sport system I see so many issues. There is a real disconnect between parents who watch their children and what sport can offer their children. Parents … actually turn their kids into assholes because they complain about the referee for a bad decision. What do we model? What do we teach our children, to be parents, to know what are the problems on the sidelines of these sports events for young people? A lot of things need to change. And sport provides a vital pathway for children to be healthy, to be confident – and then, of course, to be socialized. But I feel like youth sport is a little intimidating and a little scary at times, and this book is really going to break it down and help you raise the kind of kid you someday want them to be.
This story was edited for radio by Reena Advani, produced by Lisa Weiner, and adapted for the web by Petra Mayer.