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Former Olympian, Glendale High volleyball coach Jorgensen passes away

Ninja Jorgensen, a former United States Olympic women's volleyball player and Glendale High volleyball coach, died Tuesday, according to usavb.org. She was 77 and the cause of death wasn't known.

Jorgensen, who was born July 6, 1940 in Los Angeles, had a distinguished national and international resume that included playing on the 1968 United States Olympics volleyball team. The United States finished eighth in the event in Mexico.

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Jorgensen, who graduated from Los Angeles High in 1957 and attended Occidental College, coached girls' volleyball at Glendale from 1962-98, She was also a physical education teacher at the school until she retired in early 2000.

"She was a remarkable person and she had quite a presence," said Glendale co-athletic director Pat Lancaster, who was a colleague of Jorgensen's for about 10 years. "She was a pioneer for girls' sports and her influence was something else."

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Lancaster said Jorgensen was inspirational in building up girls' sports, which included advancing their opportunities in sports by organizing athletic teams at Glendale and leagues for them to participate in.

She also coached swimming, basketball and badminton at Glendale.

The CIF Southern Section did not recognize girls' sports until 1973, when playoff competition began. Prior to that, girls' sport teams competed in local leagues.

Jorgensen competed for the United States at the 1967 and 1970 World Championships, in addition to the 1971 Pan American Games. Jorgensen was awarded a silver medal at the 1967 World Championships in Tokyo before earning a gold medal at the 1967 Pan American Games. She was a member of the U.S. national team from 1965-73.

Jorgensen was tabbed a National Amateur Athletic Player of the Year and a U.S. Volleyball Assn. All-American in 1963

Jorgensen served as an NCAA official after her playing career ended and was an Olympic Player representative from 1984-1988. Jorgensen was bestowed with Los Angeles City Section Hall of Fame recognition in 2015.

Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich

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