ESPYs 2022: Evanston Township High School student-athlete receives honorary award

Monday, July 18, 2022
North suburban high school student-athlete awarded honorary ESPY
An Evanston Township High School student-athlete received an honorary ESPY ahead of the 2022 awards.

EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) -- Rising Evanston Township High School sophomore Olivia Ohlson plays three sports: basketball, softball and golf.

"I can't really pick a favorite," Ohlson said. "I play them all because I love them all."

For her work as a student-athlete and her efforts to support other girls of color in sports, Ohlson has been awarded with the 2022 Honorary ESPY for Outstanding Female Athlete.

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Ohlson doesn't just take pride in her athleticism. To her, engaging with her community is also important.

"I feel that community service is the best way to grow and learn more things about yourself," she said. "Not only are you helping other people, but you're learning a lot about yourself and it gives you a lot of great experience."

This year's ESPY awards fall alongside the 50-year anniversary of Title IX, the civil rights legislation that prohibited gender-based discrimination in educational institutions that are federally funded.

Ohlson has worked to create opportunities for girls of color in sports. This spring, she started Diversify Golf, a project aimed at making golf more accessible to girls of color.

"We're actually going out to community centers where kids already are and meeting them where they're at," Ohlson said. "So hopefully with learning basic skills, they'll have the confidence to go to a course one day."

When Ohlson took up golf a couple of years ago, she said she did not see many girls of color.

"I feel like two of the main things that are holding people of color and girls back from playing golf is, first, that it's a very expensive sport," Ohlson said. "Second, that it's not really accessible and sometimes it's uncomfortable to be in an environment where it's mostly men, specifically white men."

Now, she is working to change that. ETHS Athletic Director Chris Livatino nominated Ohlson for the award.

"Rather than point fingers at people and say, 'How come this person doesn't do it?' or 'How come they're not doing this?' She said, 'Hey, I can do it, make a difference,'" Livatino said. "I just respect when our kids take ownership of problem-solving like that."

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Ohlson said she didn't expect to win, and gives credit to her parents.

"They instilled in me the need and want to do community service and to prioritize family and the community as well, and just doing whatever you can to support others around you," Ohlson said.

Her passion to help others started from an early age. After her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer years ago, she started selling lemonade and baked goods, raising more than 10 thousand dollars for breast cancer patients. Ohlson dreams of becoming a biomedical engineer.