Cindy Blodgett is no stranger to halls of fame. She’s been to the Basketball Hall of Fame and is a member of both the New England Basketball Hall of Fame and the University of Maine Hall of Fame.
But up until a year ago, she had never had any firsthand exposure or involvement with the Maine Sports Hall of Fame. Then she attended the 2008 induction ceremonies and dinner as a guest of inductee Joanne Palombo-McCallie, her former head basketball coach at the University of Maine.
“It was so nice to be there last year, sitting in the stands and at the dinner, enjoying the stories people had,” Blodgett said. “I really enjoyed it as a supporter and a spectator.”
Little did she know she’d be back the very next year, as an inductee. Clinton native Blodgett is one of nine members who will join the Hall of Fame ranks Sunday in ceremonies and a dinner at the Bangor Motor Inn. The dinner starts at 12:30 p.m.
Blodgett, who now finds herself in Palombo’s position as the head coach of the Black Bears women’s basketball team, is understandably excited about the honor.
“I have to say I probably can’t fully appreciate the honor right at this moment because I’m so immersed with everything else going on with our program,” Blodgett said, “But I’m always humbled certainly by any individual award I won playing a team sport.”
“There are so many people who had a part in my success,” she added. “Being from Maine, it certainly holds a special spot for me to have this honor. I’m really looking forward to the event, especially to hear stories from the other inductees.”
Blodgett led Lawrence High School of Fairfield to four straight Class A state championships and scored 3,000 points in her high school career before breaking 20 records at UMaine and leading the Black Bears to four straight conference championships and NCAA Tournament appearances (1995-98).
Although Blodgett, 33, acknowledges hard work, talent and very supportive parents as key factors in her success, she credits one thing in particular.
“I think for me, I played because I absolutely was in love with the game,” Blodgett said. “None of the other outside factors which may come into play for players now were things I thought about. I just wanted to constantly play and get better and learn whatever I could from whoever I could.
“Whether it was going to a local high school game and seeing what those players did or watching the Boston Celtics play, I had tunnel vision for the game.”
Did she ever, but that light at the end of Blodgett’s tunnel was her selection as the sixth overall pick in the 1998 WNBA draft and a four-year professional career in the league.
How much does Blodgett love the game? Consider her typical regimen when watching her beloved Boston Celtics on TV.
“At halftime, I’d usually sprint outside and work on a couple of plays I’d just seen in the game just to see if I could incorporate them into my game,” she said with a laugh.
Blodgett first started realizing her basketball ability could be something special when she was 8.
“When I was in third grade, I was invited to play on a grade 6-7-8 travel team. I was playing against kids much bigger and more mature than me, but I was doing well,” she said. “I gained a lot of confidence from that.”
Blodgett said being one of the top 120 female players in the world in the WNBA and travelling all over the world through basketball instills a sense of restitution in her.
“I’ve certainly thought about that and it steers me in my involvement with my own players,” she explained. “As former players, you should give back to the game. It’s human nature to take and not even know you’re doing it, but I think you owe the game your best effort, sportsmanship and respect.”
Blodgett’s fellow inductees are longtime Bangor broadcaster George Hale, former UMaine baseball coach and major league scout Jack Butterfield (posthumous), former Bangor High baseball coach Bob Kelley, former Ellsworth High three-sport star Richard “Dick” Scott, former Brewer and John Bapst football and baseball coach Ken Perrone, former Georges Valley of Thomaston boys soccer coach Charles “Sam” Pendleton, Bangor High and University of Massachusetts football star and Fitzpatrick Trophy winner Pete McCarty, and former Stearns High and University of Maryland basketball standout Jon MacDonald.