Abby Wambach on the importance of Gatorade’s support of sports equality, interview

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

As a Gatorade athlete for over 15 year, Abby Wambach appreciates the importance of having strong partners supporting both your athletic and personal endeavors. While Wambach has stepped off the pitch as a player, she has taken a different role through Angel City FC. In a recent announcement, Gatorade has partnered with the Los Angeles based soccer club as a founding partner. This collaboration is more than just a beverage sponsorship, it is a commitment to create a more equitable representation in sports.

During a recent conversation with Abby Wambach, we discussed her longstanding partnership with Gatorade, the importance of women representation in sports and how the conversation needs to continue to move forward. Even as change has come, there is still improvement to be made.

Having been a Gatorade athlete for over 15 years, Wambach believes that the brand is more than the iconic beverage that people see at sporting events or grab to fuel their endeavors. For her, the connection to people is vital.

Wambach shared, Gatorade is about “the people who build the campaigns for the product who build the relationships with the athletes. A big reason why Gatorade is the way it is and is seen in the world is because the people that they partner with.”

That sentiment is one of the reasons why this partnership with Angel City FC is vital. As one of the club’s founding partners, Wambach believes that it shows that Gatorade is “not only willing to invest in the future but they’re also trying to push the boundaries in the limits of what people think of when they think of sports.”

Changing the conversation of woman and sports is more than just celebrating the achievements on the field of play, it is providing the foundation for success. From Angel City FC  as a women led organization to the Gatorade Women’s Advisor panel to seeing greater representation both on and off the field, all of those elements come together to be the visual that shows to everyone that women have proven, have earned and do deserve their place in the narrative.

Abby Wambach discusses changing both the narrative and the visual of women in sports.

Even as the sports world evolves, it is not necessarily an unencumbered path. Wambach shared this analogy. “a coach will stand in front of their team and if he is in or she is in a group of men, and the coach says, you know, one of you out there is just playing like crap all the players there will think because it’s a team of boys, a team of men will think that they’re talking about someone else. But, if you’re talking to a locker room full of women or young girls, those girls are thinking, they’re talking about me. The reason why it’s so important and I tell that story and why it’s important to me to tell that story is because girls and boys are different.”

That difference tells not just athletes but coaches, parents and supporters that the approach to coaching men and women athletes has to be different. Understanding the mentality can help everyone bring out both the best in others and themselves.

Putting women in that role of authority is more than just an experiment or a token. It is an example of the possible. As Wambach shared the story of how having a woman coach lead USA Soccer to huge success was more than just the victories in the record book. It fostered the belief that women can, will and should continue to have these roles and they will thrive in them.

In many ways, this Gatorade partnership with Angel City FC pushes the conversation even further. While the field of play is becoming more visually diverse, those changes need to extend beyond the sports conversation.

As part of this partnership, Gatorade is giving a 10 percent to community outreach. Giving girls opportunities is more than just the belief that they can achieve in the game; it extends into the front offices and in the community itself.

Wambach believes that these other opportunities can be “life-changing.” From internships to having conversations with women leaders, those moments are vital to the person in the moment but also inspire others to make changes in their approach.

Still, all of these changes happen one person at a time. While the ripple effect can be great, each person has to nurture that seed of belief in themselves.

Abby Wambach gives advice to young women athletes.

When asked what words of advice that she would give to young women athletes who have a day when they struggle, Wambach shared “there’s going to be more of those harder days than easy days. That’s just the nature of sport and it’s part of what you have to train your body and your mind. Prepare for every single day You’re going to think about quitting and your body’s is going to hurt. For me, I just think of it as a badge of honor.”

While that statement might be directed to sports, it is a sentiment that applies to building success in any field. Hard work, dedication and sacrifice pave the road to success on the field, in the board room and in life.

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Abby Wambach is one of the founding partners of Angel City FC. Gatorade has partnered with the organization.