Women’s basketball icon and Montclair State University Associate Vice President for External Relations Carol Blazejowski ’78 has been elected to the New Jersey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017, adding yet another milestone to her career.
Regarded as one of the greatest women’s basketball players in history, she became a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1994. The three-time All-American joins news anchor Connie Chung, musician Wyclef Jean and actor Ray Liotta among the members of the 2017 class.
“This is a very humbling honor, and I am grateful to the voters and the New Jersey Hall of Fame for bestowing it on me,” says Blazejowski. “This state has been my home my entire life, so to be recognized in this way is very special.”
A trailblazer for women in both sports and business, Blazejowski began her rise to basketball stardom as a senior at Cranford High School – where she helped get a women’s program started for her final year by threatening to tryout for the boy’s team. At Montclair State, she helped guide the program to its first Women’s Final Four appearance as a senior in 1978, earning the first-ever Wade Trophy as Women’s Basketball Player of the Year. As a junior, she set the single-game collegiate scoring record at Madison Square Garden with a 52-point performance, a record that still stands.
After college, Blazejowski continued her career on the court as a member of Team USA, participating in the Pan American Games and earning a gold medal at the World University games in 1979. Named captain of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team that was part of the United States’ boycott of the summer games, she concluded her career as a member of the New Jersey Gems of the Women’s Professional Basketball League.
Following her playing career Blazejowski transitioned to the business side of sports, holding positions at Adidas and the National Basketball Association before assuming the role of vice president and general manager for the New York Liberty of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) in 1997. Overseeing all aspects of the expansion franchise, she helped the organization reach four WNBA Finals and was elevated to the role of president in 2008 before leaving the team in 2010. She rejoined her alma mater in 2011, assuming her current role as associate vice president for external relations at Montclair State University.
“Basketball has given me so much; it’s taken me all over the world, allowed me to create lifelong friendships and opened so many doors for me both personally and professionally,” she says. “I will always be indebted to the sport, and am so grateful for the opportunities it’s presented to me.”
The New Jersey Hall of Fame selects nominees in five categories: Arts & Letters, Enterprise, Performing Arts, Public Service and Sports. Nominees typically must have lived in New Jersey for at least five years and must pass through three phases of voting, including a final public vote via internet and manual ballots, to receive the honor.
Blazejowski will be honored alongside the entire New Jersey Hall of Fame Class of 2017 at a special celebration on May 7, which will be held at Convention Hall in Asbury Park.
“I hope I’ve been able to inspire women and young girls, and show them what they can accomplish as athletes, in their careers and in their lives,” says Blazejowski.
For more information on the New Jersey Hall of Fame, njhalloffame.org.