FloridaTrend.com, the Website for Florida Business


Florida Sports Newsmakers in 2011

ABBY WAMBACH
Professional soccer player, Boca Raton

A World Stage

Abby Wambach
[Photo: Boris Streubel/Getty]
Three games into her soccer career, 4-year-old Abby Wambach had already scored 27 goals. Officials from her youth soccer league moved her to a boys team, but her dominance continued, just as it has throughout her career, which includes being named an NCAA All-American at the University of Florida and helping the Gators win the 1998 national championship.

Wambach's soccer and leadership skills emerged on an international stage last year, when Wambach, now 31, led the USA Women's National Soccer Team to the championship game of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. The team's unexpected run in the tournament — which ended with a loss to Japan in the final — briefly lifted women's soccer to the sports world's top rung and made Wambach a star. With 13 career World Cup goals, she is second on the all-time scoring list.

Her 2011 didn't have a happy ending, though. In October, the Women's Professional Soccer League terminated the Boca Raton-based MagicJack franchise, the team that Wambach played for and coached.

— Art Levy

NEVIN SHAPIRO
Ponzi schemer, Miami

Nevin Shapiro
[Photo: AP]

Fumble at UM
Lesson learned from Ponzi schemer and University of Miami booster Nevin Shapiro: Evidently, it will take more than money and prostitutes to make UM a top 10 program again.

Say this for Shapiro, currently serving 20 years for a nearly $1-billion Ponzi scheme: He got UM back on the tip of every tongue with his confessional to Yahoo! Sports. From 2002 to 2010 he bestowed millions of dollars in cars, gifts, money and hookers on UM players. He had them covered whether they wanted jewelry, travel, to dine out, ride his yacht, hit nightclubs and strip joints or, on one occasion, pay for an abortion.

As of early December, the NCAA hadn't announced what it would do to UM. Amid scandals at Penn State, Ohio State and elsewhere, authorities pronounced themselves disturbed and promised to study what's ailing college sports. Meanwhile, UM decided not to go to a bowl game even though it was eligible, an act of contrition to the NCAA.

— Mike Vogel