Olympic soccer coach Pia Sundhage to join Bethany as Pearson Professor

Pia Sundhage

Two-time Olympic gold medal-winning women’s soccer coach and FIFA Coach of the Year Pia Sundhage will join Bethany College in January as this year’s Distinguished Pearson Professor of Swedish Studies.

Sundhage will teach a one-credit-hour class during interterm, work with Bethany’s soccer team as well as other regional teams, connect with Women’s Intersport Network in Kansas City, and make several public presentations.

“It is a great honor and pleasure to host one of the world’s greatest coaches, Pia Sundhage, as this year’s Pearson Professor. She joins an impressive cadre of Swedish scholars, scientists, artists, writers, and musicians who have taught at Bethany through the Distinguished Pearson Professorship program,” says President Edward F. Leonard III. “Pia is a tremendous leader, known for her inspiring style and proven results. We excitedly welcome not only soccer fans, but also those who are leaders in their communities and careers, to share in this incredible learning opportunity.”

Sundhage coached the U.S. women’s soccer team from 2008 to 2012, winning Olympic gold medals in Beijing and London and taking second place in the 2011 FIFA World Cup. In December 2012, she stepped down to return home as Sweden’s national team coach.

Named by FIFA as 2012 Coach of the Year, Sundhage’s impressive record includes coaching the U.S. team to 88-6-1 and winning 11 tournaments, including three Algarve Cups. She is known for her uniquely positive and unassuming coaching style. She began her first practice with the U.S. team after they lost the 2007 World Cup by playing Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin'” on her guitar, and the team said farewell by singing her “You Are My Sunshine” and giving her a guitar they autographed.

Events that Sundhage will be partaking in are as follows:

January 6-23 – Teaching “Coaching and Leading the Elite Athlete”

January 17 – Community Reception and Press Conference

January 20 – Presentation: Leadership Lessons

January 29 – Chapel

February 1 – Presentation: Cornerstones of Coaching

February 5 – American Swedish Institute Presentation: Leadership Lessons

February 14 – Chapel

Sundhage is also one of the world’s all-time greatest female players, earning the sixth spot in the 2000 FIFA Women’s Player of the Century list. She made her debut with the Swedish team in 1975 when she was 15. She led the team to win the first European Women’s Championship in 1984, when she scored the winning penalty kick, and to the bronze medal at the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991, where she scored four goals. She retired after the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, where she played every minute of the three matches. Sundhage amassed 71 goals over 146 international games throughout her 22-year career.

Sundhage will teach her Four Cornerstones of Coaching philosophy during her one-credit-hour class, “Coaching and Leading the Elite Athlete,” that discusses the special challenges of motivating and guiding all types of leaders both on and off the field. Sundhage’s philosophy emphasizes the “great gladness” an athlete attains by achieving a goal. She will draws parallels beyond the playing field to anyone seeking to attain all that life has to offer.

The one-credit-hour class will be taught on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 3:15 p.m. from Jan. 6 to 23. The class is available for credit at $80 per credit hour ($40 per hour for senior citizens), for audit, and through the bridge program for high school students. For more information, contact the Registrar’s Office at (785) 227-3380, ext. 8105.

The Pearson Distinguished Professorship in Swedish Studies is endowed by a gift from the late Gerald “Bud” Pearson. It was created so that students, faculty, staff, and community members can explore and understand ways in which modern Swedish culture and experience can be learned and incorporated into their own lives.

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