Carol Blazejowski
Basketball star and executive
Born: September 29, 1956, in Elizabeth, New Jersey
Lives In: Nutley, New Jersey
New Jersey Hall of Fame, Class of 2016: Sports

Her nickname is “Blaze,” but it might just as well be “Trailblazer.” Since high school, Carol Blazejowski has broken down barriers for women in basketball and in all sports, and as a female sports executive.

Raised in Cranford, the young Blazejowski spearheaded a drive to create a girls’ basketball program at Cranford High School. During her senior year – when the varsity program began – she averaged 32 points per game and led Cranford to the 1974 state championship tournament.

“Her impact is still felt today,” Cranford High teacher Kitty White told New Jersey Monthly in 2009.  “She kind of put women’s basketball on the map.”

Taking her game up the road to Montclair State University (it was then Montclair State College), the 5-foot-10 Blaze was a three-time All-American from 1976-1978. A forward with a killer jump shot, she led the nation in scoring with 33.5 points per game in the 1976-77 season and 38.6 points per game in 1977-78. In a 1977 game against Queens College, she set the Madison Square Garden record for either sex with a 52-point performance – and this in an era before the 3-point play.

In 1978, Blaze was named the first-ever recipient of the Wade Trophy as the nation’s finest collegiate female player. That was the year she led Montclair State to the Final Four – a remarkable run for a school that was barely a blip on the national radar. (Montclair lost the semi-final game to powerhouse UCLA, despite Blaze’s 40-point performance.)

After college, Blaze played two seasons of amateur ball with the Allentown (Pennsylvania) Crestettes, leading the team to the AAU semi-finals both years. Playing for the U.S. national team, she helped win a gold medal at the World University Games in Mexico City in 1979. The same year, she was part of USA’s silver medalist team at the Pan American Games. In 1980, she was selected for U.S. Olympic team, but the USA boycotted the Olympics that year, denying Blaze the chance for further global glory.

In 1980, Blaze got her shot at pro ball, signing a three-year deal for a reported $150,000 with the New Jersey Gems of the Women’s Pro Basketball League. That made her the league’s best-paid player. Unfortunately, the league folded after just one year.

Her playing career over, Blaze took a job with Adidas, developing market initiatives for women’s sports programs. She also held a front-office job at the Women’s National Basketball Association and, starting in 1997, served as vice president/general manager (and later president) of the WNBA’s New York Liberty.  In 2011, she rejoined Montclair State as associate VP for university development.

In 1994, Blaze was inducted in the national Basketball Hall of Fame; five years later she was chosen for the inaugural class of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. A lifelong New Jersey resident, she paved the way for subsequent generations of female athletes all across the sports spectrum.

Intro/Acceptance Video