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Renowned guest speaker to talk women, sports today

Published January 21, 2014

In the hopes of attracting women, athletes of both genders and sports fans, the Associated Student Body will be hosting an internationally recognized guest speaker during Tutorial today in the Social Studies Resource Center.

The guest speaker, Marlene Bjornsrud, is a co-founder of the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative (BAWSI) alongside World Cup soccer champions Brandi Chastain and Julie Foudy. Last year, Bjornsrud was honored by the International Olympic Committee as the recipient of the 2013 Women and Sport Award.

BAWSI was founded in 2005 with the vision of inspiring female athletes to make an impact in society and to provide opportunities of community service, according to its website. Actions taken to achieve these goals include exposing young females to organized sports and physical education as well as connecting with girls in areas that have higher rates of obesity and diabetes.

Bjornsrud has spoken at several events that pertain to high school students and athletes. Palo Alto High School psychology teacher Melinda Mattes, who worked closely with Bjornsrud and BAWSI during her graduate studies, introduced the idea of tomorrow’s talk to ASB.

“Ms. Mattes came and asked us if ASB would be willing to do this,” ASB sports commissioner junior Alex Pelayo said. “The whole group said it would be a good idea.”

After a couple of lunch meetings between Mattes and Bjornsrud, the event was confirmed and organized. According to Mattes, the event itself was not too difficult to coordinate.

“Marlene is incredibly generous with her time and energy,” Mattes said. “I finally thought to ask her to speak to Paly students, and it was as simple as that. Marlene agreed immediately.”

Although the focus of Bjornsrud’s work is women and sports, her message is relevant to more than just females and potential athletes, according to Mattes.

“It [Bjornsrud's testimony] is really a message of choosing to matter,” Mattes said. “I’m confident that students — and teachers — will leave inspired.”


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