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May 15, 2020 13 mins

In this episode of Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020, two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA Women's World champion Abby Wambach encourages seniors to not forget to rely on their team, as nobody wins alone, and to relentlessly believe in themselves and each other.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Commencement Speeches for the Class of twenty is a production
of I Heart Radio. Class of Parents, Faculty, rising graduates.
Welcome to commencement. You made it. This year is a

little different, a difficult time to graduate because the traditional
graduation day has been put on hold. So we're bringing
it to you wherever you are, because this is still
your day, your moment. And now put your hands together.
It's time to be inspired. This year's commencement speaker the
one and only Abby Wombach. It's eight o two pm

Central European time on July two eleven, and my team,
the US women's national soccer team, is on a field
in Dresden, Germany, playing Brazil in the quarterfinals of the
World Cup. We are surrounded by a screaming, sold out
crowd and millions more are tuning in on television from

around the world. It's the hundred and twenty two minute
and we are in double overtime and we're losing two
to one. If we don't somehow score in the next
few seconds, we're out of the World Cup. The final
whistle is about to blow. No one has ever scored
in a World Cup this late in the game, and

we're down a player. I'm blocking out the crowd, I'm
blocking up the score. I'm blocking out the evidence that
there is a ninety nine point nine percent chance this
championship run is done. We're about to be eliminated and
sent home. The ball is on our own end line
and Brazil has possession. All this Brazilian player has to

do is keep possession and play out the clock. If
we're gonna have any chance of scoring, my teammates and
I will have to find a way to get the
ball back and then up the entire length of the
field and into the goal before the whistle blows. I'm
looking at the ref. She's about to put the whistle
in her mouth. It's almost over. Almost, but not yet.

I screamed to my team. One chance. It only takes
one chance. This is when Christie Rampone wins the ball
back for us. She forces the Brazilian into a bad pass.
Ali Krueger positions her body perfectly and intercepts the pass.

Krieger passes it up to Carly Lloyd in the midfield,
and Carly finds Megan Rapino on the left side. Megan
looks up, sees me and from forty five yards away
with her non dominant foot. She sends in the best
cross of her life, maybe the best cross of all time.

I see the ball take flight. It is light years away,
but I know Megan and what she is capable of.
As I see the ball coming closer, I just know
it had to be perfect, and it is. The ball
is moving, I am moving. We both have to make

it to the exact same point on the field at
the exact same time. Just like Megan knew how to
send it, my body knows where to be. I hit
my spot. I positioned myself perfectly clear of the defender
and the goalkeeper. The ball finds its way over the
goalkeeper's hands, over the defender's head, and in this last moment,

my head and the ball meet. First split second, everything
goes black, and slowly the world comes back into focus.
I see my teammates running towards me from every direction
on the field and from the bench. They're screaming and
laughing and hugging, high fiving, chest bumping, and as they

rushed towards me, each of their amazed faces asking did
we just do this? Did we just save our World
Cup life? In the last second, What the hell just happened.
What happened is that we believed. What happened is that

we never stopped believing. There's a chance that the national
team's loyal fan club, the American Outlaws, cheer from the stands.
It has become the lifeblood pumping through our national team's veins.
It goes like this, I I believe, I believe that

we I believe that we will win. I believe that
we will win. I believe that we will win. Graduates,
as you step out into an uncertain world, I want
to tell you why this chance should become the lifeblood
pumping through your veins too. I I believe you must

believe in the eye. You must believe in yourself that
World Cup play doesn't happen if each player doesn't step
up and claim her specific power and skill to deliver
the impossible. Christie Krieger, Carly Pino each had to believe
she was good enough and ready to execute her part

within the broader play. None of those women could alone
control the ultimate outcome of the game, but each was
hell bent on controlling what she could control, her part,
her moment, her belief. Collective success is determined by individual accountability.

The greatest Teams are made up of individual players who
each relentlessly believe in their own. Greatness graduates in this moment.
As you step out into the world. You don't know
what fields you'll be on, how high the stakes maybe,
but you can know this for sure, there's a part

out there that only you can play. When the ball
comes to you, and it will, you will have to
decide that you're good enough. No one else can decide
that for you. Be bold, be audacious, believe in yourself,
especially when no one else does, and when the ball

does come to you, when it's your turn to make
a difference, show up like our collective future depends on you,
because it does. I I believe. I believe that we
you must believe in the wei. All right, let's go

back to that field in Dresden. I've just scored that goal.
I'm alone at the corner flag for a brief second,
I look at the crowd and it's the sea of red,
white and blue screaming fans. They are crying and hugging flags,
waving in the air. They are shocked. I am amazed.
Then in a flash, I'm surrounded every player on my team,

from the field and the bench, is now in a huddle,
a giant hug surrounding me. Only one teammate is missing, Pino.
She sent her across froom so far that she still
hasn't made it to us. I look up and she
is barreling towards me. She leaps like a rabid koala
and lands on me, and what is still one of

the most magical and painful moments of my entire career.
We did it. We all did it. In order to
earn that moment, we had to believe in each other.
Krieger had to believe in Rampone's grit, Carly had to
believe in Krieger's touch, Pino had to believe in carly strategy,

and I had to believe in Pino's vision, in her
now legendary glorious audacity which allowed her to even attempt
to get that impossible ball to me. And each of
them had to believe that if they did get that
ball to me, I do whatever it took to score.
You will find yourself on teams throughout your life, and

when you do, you will have a choice to opt
in and believe in the team or not. If you
find ways to see and believe in the specific power
and skill of each of your teammates, your co workers,
your friends, your family members. Together, you will be able
to step up to whatever the moment is asking of you.

I I leave. I believe that we I believe that
we will win. You must believe in the will. Will
is the work. Will is the force inside every player
on that field that compelled her to show up to

a thousand practices in a thousand cities and pour her
body into every play, in every minute when no one
was watching. The magic of that one moment against Brazil
happened because of the relentless will of twenty three women
preparing for that moment for their entire lives. Magic is

not magic. Magic is created by people with a relentless
and consistent dedication to greatness, the repetition, discipline, vision, blood,
sweat and tears. Magic is hard earned. You have opportunities
from magic moments ahead of you I and you will

have to earn them too. Will also means inevitable. Our
chant was not I believe we might, we could, we
dream will win. It was I believe that we will win.
People will tell you to keep dreaming. I'm here to

tell you it's time to stop dreaming. Dreams are for
those who prefer to stay in their heads rather than
step on the field and play. When Rose Lavelle, the
national team breakout star from the two thousand and nineteen
World Cup, was asked if she had always dreamed of
playing in the World Cup, she said, no, I've never

dreamed of it because it was always going to be
a reality. Don't tell me about your dreams anymore. Tell
me your plans. Have the courage and audacity and accountability
to name your dream and then claim it. Claim your dream,
say to yourself and the world. I will graduates as

you go forward from this day and onto the big game. Remember,
you're gonna have countless grueling practices with no one applauding
in the stands. I know that your decision to bring
your whole self to those unsung hours will be what
gives you your chance to earn your magical moment. You're

gonna have to choose to believe in and rely on
your team. Nobody wins alone. I've never not once in
my life score a goal without the help of a teammate.
You won't either. You're gonna have to decide in your
hundred and twenty second minute moment when the rest of
the world has counted you out, that you still believe,

you're gonna have to decide whether you're willing to risk
it all for the chance to win big or lose.
Glorious graduates, promise me that you will relentlessly believe in magic,
by which I mean, of course, that you will relentlessly
believe in yourself and each other and to the entire world.

As we together look towards what's next for us. I
I believe, I believe that we I believe that we
will win. I believe that we will win. You can

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