Meet the Former Olympic Soccer Player Who Made History Calling the Men's World Cup
Badass Women celebrates women who show up, speak up, and get things done.
Aly Wagner made history last summer at the FIFA Men’s World Cup when she became the first woman to call the men's games as part of Fox Sports' U.S. broadcast coverage. “I sat there thinking, I am the only woman here, but I’m also doing this for the United States,” Wagner tells InStyle.
The former U.S. women's national team midfielder and two-time Olympic gold medalist had to put her own hat in the ring in order to be considered. “If I hadn’t spoken up, no one would have thought to put a woman in my role, and that was an important lesson for me,” she says. “If I love it and I’m good enough, then I want to be involved in it. I pushed to do it because I love the game.”
During the Men’s World Cup, Wagner received plenty of support from her male counterparts, but faced some criticism on social media. “There were people who made remarks like, "you’re supposed to be in the kitchen making a sandwich, don’t talk to me about football," she recalls. “But I thought it was pretty well received.” Wagner carried on unfazed. “I am going to resonate with some people and other people won’t be able to stand me, and that is normal," she says. "There will always be people who do or don’t like what you do.”
Wagner is now poised to lead coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France next month. “I did the best I could to be a great representative for Fox in this position, and that will hopefully now be the norm,” she says. “If you are good enough you should be there, man or woman, it doesn’t matter.”
Mom on the move: As a mother of four, including triplets (Griffin, Daeven, and Lincoln) and a daughter, Blake, Wagner says being an athlete has helped her juggle parenting and a successful career. “As an athlete I am incredibly disciplined and I know how to organize my time,” she says. “And as much as it hurt to be away from my kids [to call the Men’s World Cup], I knew that one day they will look back and say, mum was really strong, she opened doors for other people.”
Role models: Wagner’s confidence has played a big part in her success, she says, adding that she looks to other confident women like former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for inspiration. “When I was being recruited to Stanford, I was fortunate enough to hear Condoleezza speak,” Wagner says. “When I talk about presence in a room, she had it. To go on and see what she was able to achieve — breaking barriers in what is largely a male-dominated profession — it was cool to watch from afar.”
Best advice: The road to making history is anything but easy, but that’s no reason not to push forward, according to Wagner. “It is okay to have setbacks,” she says. “Along the way you are going to trip up somewhere and you’re going to fail but continue to push on and learn. Do not let setbacks hold you back.” Wagner goes on to say she wants young people who look up to her to realize their worth. “You have to know who you are, where you want to go, and be brave,” she says. “Don’t let self-doubt creep in and push you from what you want. Put your goals out there and have faith.”