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T-Storm,73°
Monday, July 28, 2014
Coleman Country welcomes Olympic champion
(Page 2 of 3)
Donovan Berthoud/Herald
Coleman campers, from left, Arianna Peckham, 9, Samantha Miller, 10, and Rebecca Kussin, 9, who play soccer in the East Meadow Soccer Club, were thrilled to meet Wambach.

She captured the international spotlight in 2011 during the FIFA Women’s World Cup, when, during a quarterfinal match against Brazil, she scored a dramatic, last-second goal on a header during stoppage time to tie the game. The U.S. later won the game on penalty kicks. The goal earned Wambach an ESPY for Best Play of the Year. The following year, she was named as the 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year.

But Wambach said that individual accolades are secondary to what she has accomplished as part of the U.S. National Team. "Being able to represent my country is one of the most amazing feelings,” she said.

Of Wambach’s 160 goals, she estimated that she scored half on headers. It’s an art she has perfected, and she took a few minutes to teach campers the proper technique for heading the ball.

Following several question-and-answer sessions, select campers had the opportunity to kick a penalty shot on Wambach or to try to save one. It was a thrill not only for the campers, but also for Wambach. "I love to be able to promote women's sports, because we still have a far way to go,” she said. “And I love to be able to do it on a grassroots level. When you can get into their environment, those kind of memories last longer."

Finally, all of the kids had the opportunity to give Wambach a high-five, and for many of them, meeting the soccer star was a dream come true. "It was an amazing feeling to high-five somebody who is the greatest soccer player in the world,” said Michael Carbone, 9, of Merrick.

It was especially inspirational for the girls, many of whom are aspiring soccer players. “It was my dream to play soccer ever since I scored my first-ever goal,” said Rebecca Kussin, 9, of Merrick, who plays for the East Meadow Soccer Club. “I realized it’s what I wanted.”

“I cannot believe I was talking to the world’s best soccer player,” added Jenna Miller, 11, of Wantagh.

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