Celebrated women’s soccer star Abby Wambach, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and six-time winner of the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year award, is scheduled to speak at the University of Kentucky on Tuesday, April 5, 2016, less than two days after being arrested in Oregon for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol.
Wambach, 35, owns a home in Portland, Ore. — where she was arrested Sunday — but is a native of Rochester, N.Y.
After a successful collegiate soccer career at the University of Florida — including leading the Gators to their first-ever NCAA Division I women’s soccer title — Wambach became a regular on the U.S. women’s national team from 2003 until her retirement in December 2015. She has also competed in four FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments, winning one.
The 5-foot-11-inch forward’s 184 career goals currently stands as the world record for goals scored in international play among both female and male soccer players.
Wambach has also scored more goals for the USWNT than any other player, earning gold medals in the 2004 Athens and 2012 London Summer Olympic Games.
Reaction to Arrest
“Last night I was arrested for DUII in Portland after dinner at a friend’s house,” Wambach said in a statement posted to her Facebook page on April 3, 2016.
“Those that know me, know that I have always demanded excellence from myself,” Wambach said in the statement. “I have let myself and others down.”
“I take full responsibility for my actions,” Wambach said. “This is all on me. I promise that I will do whatever it takes to ensure that my horrible mistake is never repeated,” she said, apologizing to her family, friends, fans and “those that look to follow a better example.”
“As a retired police detective, I feel that the statement that Abby made is not only genuine but is a rare thing to get from an athlete or anyone in the limelight,” wrote Marianne Murawski, a retired New York Police Department detective in Marlborough, Conn.
Other Facebook users echoed Murawski’s sentiments.
“I don’t have tolerance for those who drive under the influence,” wrote Todd Gestrin of Lebanon, Ore. “With that being said, my prayers go out to you. … I am disappointed but the manner in which you have embraced the situation is in true form of the Abby our country so adores and loves.”
However, at least two players on the U.S. men’s national soccer team have taken personal swipes at Wambach on Twitter, as reported by the New York Post and numerous other media outlets.
— Alejandro Bedoya (@AleBedoya17) April 3, 2016
Wambach’s April 5 appearance in Lexington — part of the “Women of the World” lecture series hosted by the University of Kentucky’s Student Activities Board — will be her first public appearance following her April 3 arrest.
Wambach is scheduled to speak at 8 p.m. EDT on April 5 in Memorial Hall. The event is free and open to the public, with doors opening at 7:15 p.m.
In addition to reflecting on her career in women’s soccer during her visit to UK, Wambach is expected to talk about being a woman in a male-dominated industry and being an active member of the LGBT community.
Last year’s “Women of the World” speaker was actress Rosario Dawson.