Pia Sundhage joined Bethany College this winter as the 2013 Pearson Distinguished Professor of Swedish Studies. While at Bethnay, Sundhage taught a one-credit-hour class during interterm, worked with Bethany’s soccer team as well as other regional teams, connected with Women’s Intersport Network in Kansas City, and made several public presentations.
Sundhage coached the United States 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 2012 FIFA World Coach of the Year, Sundhage has been nominated as FIFA Coach of the Year four consecutive times. Her 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.
On Monday, January 20, Sundhage is giving a presentation on Leadership Lessons at10 a.m. in Presser Hall on the Bethany College campus. As one of the world’s best coaches, Sundhage has been a strong promoter of female athletics since a young age.
As a young girl in Sweden, Sundhage first played on a boys’ soccer team under a disguise that her mother helped her create. At the time, there weren’t many opportunities for females in sport, and Sundhage has since helped pave the way for female athletes. Years later, Sundhage is one of the world’s finest coaches and is an innovator for the game of soccer, changing the way the sport is played by implementing her unique coaching philosophies.
“Having a pioneer in the athletics world on our campus has allowed our community the ability to learn from someone with such an inspiring narrative,” said Dean of Athletics Dane Pavlovich. “Bethany College has benefited from her stories, laughter, and positivity. Even though she says she is not a teacher, everyone has gained from her presence, amazing thoughts, and reflections.”