Yesterday, the Coast Guard played host to two soccer superstars, America’s Abby Wambach and France’s Sonia Bompastor. Thanks to Chief Warrant Officer Scott Carr for providing this guest post on the players’ day with the Coast Guard. Also, a special thanks to Women’s Professional Soccer and the Washington Freedom for honoring Coast Guard Day when the Freedom host the Philadelphia Independence on August 4th.
Post written by Chief Warrant Officer Scott Carr
On the soccer field, Washington Freedom and U.S. national team forward Abby Wambach knows how to score goals. She was named the Women’s Professional Soccer Player of the Week Tuesday, but Wednesday her challenge was on the water as she took the helm of a Coast Guard 25-foot response boat on the Potomac River near Washington, DC.
Station Washington crew members met the two players and took them for a boat ride on the Potomac River. Wambach, a seasoned boater herself, couldn’t wait to get underway and take the helm. “Wow, that was fun, Wambach said afterwards. I had no idea those boats could go so fast.” Bompastor, while excited, was a little more timid as she had never driven a boat before.
Chief Petty Officer Billy Davidson, Station Washington’s operations officer, was one of the coxswains during the tour. “I have played soccer my whole life and it was great to meet Abby and Sonia,” said Davidson. During their time on the river Davidson filled in Wambach and Bompastor on the unit’s missions. They both had an understanding of what the Coast Guard does from a search and rescue stand point, but they were unaware of our law enforcement and security missions. Once they realized all that we do, they were really appreciative of our efforts to keep the country safe, said Davidson. The 17-year veteran Boatswain Mate, from Clovis, N.M. was also impressed with Wambach’s boat driving skills, “it was obvious she could drive a boat; so I let her have some fun.”
Bompastor, a midfielder on the Freedom was impressed with the skills of the boat crew. I imagine it takes years of training to handle the boats that well just like it takes us years of training to become professional soccer players, she said.
Seaman Kristina Pietrofere, a boat crew member on the 25-footer with Wambach, thought it was a complete honor to meet a professional athlete, especially one of Wambach’s stature. The Bayville, N.Y. native has been in the Coast Guard for a little more than a year and thought it was great these incredible women athletes came down to see what the women in the Coast Guard do.
At the end of the day, Station Washington crew members gave the Washington Freedom players a short law enforcement demonstration on how to handcuff a subject and then the players practiced on each other. Bompastor, who handcuffed Wambach first, tightened down the handcuffs too much and caused Wambach to yelp. Once freed, Wambach smiled and said, “That’s why I wanted to go first.” Payback came as the 5-foot-11-inch tall forward applied the first cuff and then placed her knee in the small of Bompastor’s back and applied a wrist lock as taught by Fireman Erica Miles.
Both players agreed that they would brag about their appearance with the Coast Guard to their Freedom teammates. But they also noted how fun it was to hang out with women and men at the station. Wambach also remarked how cool it was to see so many women in an organization that she would expect to have a lot of men. “I think any female athlete would be a perfect fit for the Coast Guard,” said Wambach. “Athletes are team players and the military needs team players. I would encourage anyone who wasn’t still protecting goals to consider protecting our country.”
Events like this one really benefit our junior people, said Davidson. Today, our junior people got to meet and train professional athletes in the missions of the Coast Guard. They also got to see that the athletes respect what they do every day, which is great for retention.
In 2009, the Coast Guard became an official sponsor of Women’s Professional Soccer, joining forces to advocate healthy, active lifestyle choices in today’s young women and to share career opportunities in the U.S. Coast Guard.
UPDATE: Click here to visit the Women’s Professional Soccer website for more on Abby and Sonia’s adventures as “Coasties for a Day” including more photos and video.