Lancaster County native preparing for Paris Olympics

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LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – Lancaster native and U.S. Women’s Soccer team defender Abby Dahlkemper has been representing the United States for more than eight years.

“It’s such an honor and the U.S. Women’s National Team represents so much, on and off the field, and to be a part of it and be a part of inspiring a nation, pushing standards of how women can lead and play soccer and inspire the world and create positive change means so much to me,” said Dahlkemper.

Dahlkemper made her first Olympic Team in 2021 and earned a bronze medal with the USA at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Dahlkemper was instrumental in the National Teams Olympic berth, helping them win the 2020 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship by playing the most minutes on the team across the five games.

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN – AUGUST 06: Players of United States attend the award ceremony of the Olympic women’s football gold medal match between Sweden and Canada at International Stadium Yokohama on August 06, 2021 in Yokohamain, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN – AUGUST 06: Players of United States attend the award ceremony of the Olympic women’s football gold medal match between Sweden and Canada at International Stadium Yokohama on August 06, 2021 in Yokohamain, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images)

Dahlkemper keeps her Olympic medal in a special case that Adidas sent her in the office she shares with her husband, who also played professional soccer for 10 years.

Before her Olympic debut, Dahlekemper was a team captain for the U-17 Women’s National Team in 2010, making her full WNT debut towards the end of 2016. She also played the most minutes of any U.S. player on the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup championship team.

In 2023 Dahlkemper appeared in her first USWNT game in 599 days, coming back from major back surgery.

“It taught me a lot,” Dahlkemper said. “It taught me first and foremost, to never give up and focus on what you can control. I have a lot of fight in me that I probably didn’t know I had. I learned a lot about myself and I learned how tough I am.”

Dahlkemper said she is feeling good right now. She believes the lessons she learned from her injury rehab process have made her stronger heading into the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“I feel really good and really confident,” Dahlkemper said. “I feel honored and humbled to be here. I think for me, it’s just controlling what I can control and bringing my best every day that I step out on the field. . . and just helping this group whatever way I can.”

Dahlkemper prioritizes focusing on the present, but when she takes time to reflect she is proud of how far she has come.

“My journey has had such beautiful moments and it has had such hard moments, but I think the beautiful moments make the hard moments worth it,” Dahlkemper said. “(I’m) just really proud and honored to have had this journey thus far. I know the journey’s not over. . . I’m just enjoying the moment.”

Dahlkemper hopes to inspire young girls, especially young soccer players, to dream big.

“I think (my) message to young girls is just to never stop believing and shoot for the stars and always set high goals for yourself,” Dahlkemper said. ” The younger generation is so talented and you can see that with all the young women coming up in football now. They’re so talented and so wise beyond their years and they’re making a statement.”

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 29: Abby Dahlkemper at the AT&T tent at Snapdragon Stadium on October 29, 2023 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Ben Nichols/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 29: Abby Dahlkemper at the AT&T tent at Snapdragon Stadium on October 29, 2023 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Ben Nichols/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

Dahlkemper also plays in the professional league of the National Women’s Soccer League for the San Diego Wave FC, but right now she is competing with the United States National Team at the 2024 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup. They just shut out the Dominican Republic 5-0 on Feb. 20 and will be facing Argentina on Friday, Feb. 23.

The Lancaster-born soccer star was only in the Midstate for a few years of her life. Both her parents were born in Erie and her family lived in Lancaster before moving to Texas. They eventually settled in the Bay Area of Califonia, which Dahlkemper considers her hometown since she was only in fifth grade when her family made the move.

“I haven’t been back (to Pennsylvania) in a while, but have plans to go back and visit,” Dahlkemper said. “I always enjoy my time when I’m in Pennsylvania and (it’s) definitely a part of me (and I) will always have a place in my heart for Pennsylvania.”

The Paris 2024 Olympics will commence on July 26 with the USWNT roster being finalized closer to the games.

Dahlkemper is ready for whatever is next in her soccer journey.

  • CARSON, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Abigail Dahlkemper #2 of United States drives the ball during Group A – 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup match between United States and Dominican Republic at Dignity Health Sports Park on February 20, 2024 in Carson, California. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)
    CARSON, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Abigail Dahlkemper #2 of United States drives the ball during Group A – 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup match between United States and Dominican Republic at Dignity Health Sports Park on February 20, 2024 in Carson, California. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)
  • United States’ Abby Dahlkemper, left, and Netherlands’ Lieke Martens battle for the ball during a women’s quarterfinal soccer match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Yokohama, Japan. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
    United States’ Abby Dahlkemper, left, and Netherlands’ Lieke Martens battle for the ball during a women’s quarterfinal soccer match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Yokohama, Japan. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
  • FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA – DECEMBER 02: Abby Dahlkemper #2 of the United States looks on before the start of a match against China PR at DRV PNK Stadium on December 02, 2023 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
    FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA – DECEMBER 02: Abby Dahlkemper #2 of the United States looks on before the start of a match against China PR at DRV PNK Stadium on December 02, 2023 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

“I still have that fight and grit,” Dahlkemper said. “I’ve just been really enjoying soccer more than ever right now and it’s really amazing when you can just enjoy and be in the moment and be present. Looking back at my journey I wouldn’t change anything. (I’m) really thankful for everything that soccer has brought me and taught me.”

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