Farewell To A Legend

Abby Wambach retired today.  With her retirement, the third era of the United States Women’s National Team comes to an end.  The first era was the beginning of the program in the mid-1980’s until 1991 when the USWNT established itself as the dominant team in the sport.  The second was between 1991 and 1999 as the USWNT went from near-complete anonymity to national superstars.  This third era from 2000-2015 was of a team that has, for the most part, been trying to recover its dominance when faced with vastly improved competition and rediscover an identity following the retirement of its long-time superstars.  Not coincidentally, each of these eras ended with a World Cup win.  The 1991 victory brought dominance, the 1999 victory brought superstardom, and the the 2015 victory brought vindication.

Each era of the USWNT has had many great players, some of the finest ever to play the game in every position.  Nevertheless, in my mind, three stand above the rest, and those players’ apexes roughly correspond to the three aforementioned eras.  First, Michelle Akers, arguably the greatest woman to ever play the game, played on the first ever USWNT and was the star of the 1991 World Cup.  Mia Hamm was the dominant player after her, the world’s most prolific scorer in international soccer (women’s and men’s), and the USWNT’s first superstar.  Finally came Abby Wambach.  From about 2004 onward, Wambach was the paradigmatic American soccer player, and, as of this writing, is the current most prolific goal scorer in all of international soccer.

So Wambach has retired, and she did so with the World Cup title she so desperately craved.  It was not a pretty journey along the way either–filled with heartache, drama, and Olympic gold (but only Olympic gold).  I don’t think one player ever had so much of a stylistic effect on the USWNT.  Wambach changed the way the US played to match her physicality; “Abby Ball” (crosses from the wings for Wambach to head in) dominated for the better part of a decade.

There is a lot to say, but that will have to be for another time.  Right now I want to celebrate Wambach, and specifically recount one personal memory that is special to me.  After the debacle of the 2007 World Cup, I felt somewhat ambivalently toward the USWNT.  I supported for them, but did not love them.  It was Wambach who rekindled that love of the USWNT for me.  It was in the quarterfinals of the 2011 World Cup against Marta’s Brazil.  The US was down 1-2 in extra time stoppage time.  Then in the 122nd, Megan Rapinoe fired a cross to Abby Wambach’s head.

Abby Wambach saved the USA’s life.  It was a moment of pure magic that still gives me chills to think about.  All ambivalence was ended.  I firmly love the USWNT and now go regularly to support my NWSL team.  Women’s soccer is my number one sport.  It is all thanks to Abby Wambach.

I do not know what the future of the USWNT team will hold or who will be the next era-defining player (Alex Morgan, Crystal Dunn, someone who hasn’t even played yet?) if there is one.  But today let us focus on one of the all-time US sports legends.  May road rise to meet her and the wind be always at her back.  Thank you for everything, Abby Wambach.


Dear Readers,

Sorry for the absence.  I have been abroad on vacation, working hard, and now distracted by the World Cup.  I hate letting a month go by without posting though, so here is my apology. 

In the meantime, marriage equality is here to stay in my home state of Pennsylvania, which means the entire Northeast and West Coast are in the win columns.  Another ban has been struck down (pending a stay) in Wisconsin, so now over half of the country has marriage equality or the law has been struck down and put on hold temporarily.  Interesting times. 

Lowder Strikes Again

This time it’s not about Looking, but rather the negative critical appraisal of Dallas Buyers Club.  I have not seen DBC, so I cannot and will not speak to the merits of the movie.  This post is solely about J. Bryan Lowder’s take on the movie’s critics.  Having read his latest diatribe, I feel like Lowder ripped off the thesis of my post about Looking.  (Not that I believe he reads this blog or has read that post.)

This is how he ends his screed:

And indeed, preferences are what we’re really talking about when we analyze the LGBTQ-related criticisms of DBC—preferences about who can tell certain stories, preferences for what makes a piece of art “count,” preferences for how certain types of people should look and act. My preference? For critics to stop pretending that these judgments are ideologically neutral or ethically self-evident, because they aren’t, and because the vision for queer art they suggest is cramped, boring, and exclusive. If that’s “progress,” I’d rather hang back here with Rayon.

Everything he attacks about the critics of Dallas Buyers Club is what he attacked about Looking.  The hypocrisy and lack of self-awareness is absolutely stunning.


Today, Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn will sign the marriage equality bill passed (finally!) by the Illinois General Assembly.  In case you weren’t aware, the bill will be signed 150 years (seven score and ten) and a day after Abraham Lincoln, the first President from Illinois, delivered his famous Gettysburg Address.  The bill will be signed at the desk where Lincoln wrote his first inaugural address.  Quinn’s signature will make Illinois the 16th state to embrace marriage equality, and guess who was the 16th President.

Never let anyone tell you this is not a big deal.

The Ellis Island Myth

On this week’s Genealogy Roadshow, I and many, many other genealogy fans noticed a glaring mistake–host Joshua Taylor seemed to acknowledge that the surname of a participant’s ancestor was changed at Ellis Island.  Now, most people probably didn’t nothing and presumably don’t care very much, but in the genealogy community spreading this myth is one of the cardinal sins.  Names were almost never changed at Ellis Island for a variety of reasons–not the least of which being that the passenger lists were created at the location of departure.  That is why it was both shocking and disappointing to hear the President of the Federation of Genealogical Societies perpetuate a wide-spread story that may be romantic but is blatantly false.  Dick Eastman has a very long post on his blog dispelling the myth.  If you don’t believe him, then try the New York Public Library.    

Anyway, to give credit where credit is due, Taylor has explained himself and sort of apologized, which is good because a show’s credibility is on the line when the viewers can spot clear errors.  Which is not to say that one blog post makes it all better–more people will have seen the show than will read this post, Taylor’s, Eastman’s, the New York Public Library’s, or any of the other zillion posts out there on the Internet dispelling the Ellis Island myth.  But it’s better than nothing. 

Ancestry Issues

Just a quick check.  Does anyone else use Ancestry.com and if so, have you been having issues with the site for the past month or so?  I have been having many problems of late, and I am none too happy.  This is definitely a recent development.

Sometimes I think the motto of programming is “If it ain’t broke, break it.”