NEU-ISENBURG, Germany — Chayne Wolfe skipped out of soccer practice Tuesday. Her whole school team did, with good reason.
The gold-medal winning U.S. Women’s Soccer team is in Europe this week for a pair of friendly matches and invited American military families to a training ground south of Frankfurt to watch them in action.
“This is our practice,” said Wolfe, a senior defender for Kaiserslautern High School. “We’re studying.”
A crowd of about 200 Americans, many of them middle and high school girls, cheered the top-ranked U.S. women’s national team as they scrimmaged amongst themselves for about 45 minutes on a cool and breezy German afternoon.
Chants of “Abby!” rang from the stands every time Abby Wambach, the 5-foot 11 star forward from Rochester, N.Y., got near the ball.
“It’s our version of a concert,” said Kaiserslautern defender Joanna Quinn, 17. “Other kids go to the Warped Tour; we go to soccer games.”
But unlike a concert, along with the screaming, the young players were scrutinizing the American women for tips to help them improve their own games.
“Unfortunately, the women’s game wasn’t that big when I was younger, and I wasn’t able to go experience and watch them play,” said Christie Rampone, the team’s 37-year-old captain and most experienced player with 279 caps.
“It’s a humbling and honoring experience to know that you’re paving the way for other female athletes to do the same thing and aspire to do the same thing.”
It wasn’t all that long ago that U.S. forward Alex Morgan, 24, was in the same position as many of the kids watching Tuesday’s practice.
“I was definitely one of these kids yelling” for Kristine Lilly and Mia Hamm, she said.
“I just want to thank all the military and the families for coming out. It’s really great to see the support and we hope that they come out to the game.”
After getting a slew of autographs, and getting to chat with Morgan and a handful of other players, 16-year old junior Brittany Overton, a forward for Ramstein, was nearly speechless.
“They are so down to earth,” she said. “I have a smile from ear to ear.”