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American soccer stars Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe shine at OUAB discussion

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Megan Rapinoe (center) and Abby Wambach (right) speak to OSU women's soccer coach Lori Walker during an OUAB event on March 28 at The Ohio Union. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo Editor

Megan Rapinoe (center) and Abby Wambach (right) speak to OSU women’s soccer coach Lori Walker during an OUAB event on March 28 at The Ohio Union. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo Editor

Two of the most prominent American female athletes visited Ohio State on Monday night to discuss a wide variety of topics in a crowded Archie Griffin Grand Ballroom at the Ohio Union.

The event, put on by OUAB, featured former U.S. Women’s National Team forward Abby Wambach and current midfielder Megan Rapinoe. The duo sat down with OSU women’s soccer coach Lori Walker for a talk about women’s rights, gay rights and Wambach’s retirement.

Those in attendance listened to the moving words and topics that the athletes presented. Wambach and Rapinoe are coming off a FIFA Women’s World Cup title, the third in U.S. history. The duo described their feelings when meeting President Barack Obama and riding on floats through New York City for their championship ticker-tape parade.

However, these women had a much larger message to leave with students.

Both Rapinoe and Wambach have come out as lesbian in recent years, and wanted to let people who are struggling with their sexuality know it is OK to be gay. The World Cup champions described the points in their life when they discovered they were gay, and the triumphs and struggles they encountered while doing so.

Wambach said she plans to release a book toward the end of the year describing not only her successes in life, but also her failures and darkest moments. The all-time leading goal-scorer in the history of international women’s soccer said she will open up in ways that no one knows about, and that some of the details in the book might be shocking to some readers. Even so, Wambach said she is not scared about unleashing this information, and she is completely comfortable with who she is.

For the first time publicly, Wambach announced she will join former U.S. women’s soccer player Brandi Chastain and donate her brain for concussion research. Rapinoe said she would follow suit, as well, although she noted she doesn’t use her head quite to the extend Wambach does. 

Rapinoe talked about her engagement and upcoming marriage to singer-songwriter Sera Cahoone and her excitement surrounding the event. The USWNT winger was recently inducted into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame and is a large proponent of the LGBT community.

Rapinoe said she feels that her advocacy role is not only about the story of her own sexuality, but to make other people of the LGBT community feel comfortable with who they are and to “be your best you.”

Throughout the discussion, Wambach touched on her recent retirement from soccer, and what her future plans are both in life and in the realm of the game. The 35 year-old said she knew it was time for her to retire when then-teammate Kelley O’Hara came in as a substitute and scored a goal against Germany in the semifinal of the 2015 World Cup. Wambach said at that moment she felt that she could leave the team after being a leader and member since 2001 and it would be “in good hands.”

The former teammates in Wambach and Rapinoe remain great friends, and Wambach said she plans to remain involved in the game of soccer, specifically with the USWNT. The champions will also drive to become even bigger advocates within the LGBT community and always remind people to not care and to be happy with who they are.

A full story about Rapinoe and Wambach’s decision can be read here.

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