Abby Wambach is pretty calm when watching her step-daughters play soccer

The two-time Olympic gold medalist discussed overcoming failure and bad sideline parents.

Boston-04/10/2019  Abby Wambach(left) and Glennon Doyle (center) were interviewed by The Boston Globe's Linda Henry at a luncheon at Exploateur. Photo by John Tlumacki/Globe Staff(arts)
Abby Wambach (left) and Glennon Doyle (center) were interviewed by Linda Henry, managing director of The Boston Globe, at Explorateur. –John Tlumacki / The Boston Globe

Abby Wambach yelled so intensely during the 2015 Women’s World Cup that the U.S. coaches moved her to the end of the bench. But it’s an entirely different story when she’s watching her step-daughters play soccer.

Wambach and her wife, Glennon Doyle, were in Boston on Wednesday for a discussion at Explorateur Cafe following the release of the two-time Olympic gold medalist and Women’s World Cup champion’s new book, “WOLFPACK: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game.” Wambach and Doyle chatted with moderator Linda Henry, managing director of The Boston Globe, on a range of topics, including how Wambach learned to cope with “leading from the bench” and why she approaches watching her step-daughters play with a cool head.

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When Wambach and Doyle, who wed in 2017, are on the sidelines, Wambach said it’s other parents who are doing the yelling — and not in a supportive way.

“They’re yelling at the ref, and I’m like, ‘This referee is getting paid like 30 cents a minute to ref this game!’” Wambach said. “Give them a break, A, and B, they’re children. And every time you yell, you’re teaching your child that it’s OK for them to react that way as well.”

During her playing career, Wambach was such an intense competitor that she once reentered a game in 2010 after getting a bleeding cut on her head stapled shut. So when the decision was made prior to the 2015 Women’s World Cup that Wambach would not be in the starting lineup, the ultra-competitive U.S. soccer legend was initially less than pleased.

“As a leader, as the world-record goalscorer, as a captain, I’ll just be truthful and honest: That was hard,” Wambach said. “That sucked.”

In the end, Wambach said she learned a valuable lesson, yelling so loudly in support of her teammates that she became “the most obnoxious person in the stadium.”

“If you call yourself a leader on the field and not on the bench,” Wambach said, “then you’re no leader at all.”

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