Growing up in Oak Ridge, I learned quickly that the folks here love their high school athletics. All it takes is one trip to historic Blankenship Field on a fall Friday night to get a sense of how this town feels about sports.
However, recently itâ€™s occurred to me that there has been a terrible injustice to one of our own. One of Oak Ridgeâ€™s most decorated athletes has gone relatively unrecognized to my generation.
Jennifer Azzi is the athlete Iâ€™m talking about. From right here in Oak Ridge, Azzi graduated and went on to play Division One basketball at Stanford.Â While at Stanford, she compiled a list of accomplishments that would impress any sports junkie. Helping Stanford to win their programâ€™s first womenâ€™s basketball national championship, Azzi was also named Final Four MVP.Â While this alone should be enough for her to be celebrated around town, Azzi didnâ€™t stop there. She was named the 1990 Naismith National Player of the Year, and for those who are unaware, thatâ€™s essentially college basketballâ€™s equivalent to the Heisman Trophy. Azzi was also named Pac 10 player of the year for the 1989-90 season. She was a two time Kodak All-American for her play during the 1988-89 and 1989-90 seasons.
Azzi went on to be an eventual first-round draft pick in the WNBA draft.
And if that didnâ€™t make your jaw drop, hereâ€™s the icing on the cake. In 1996, Azzi helped make not only East Tennessee proud, but her country proud as well when she and her teammates on the USA Womenâ€™s National Basketball Team won a gold medal in the 1996 Olympics held in Atlanta. Letâ€™s face it, she wasnâ€™t good; Jennifer Azzi was simply amazing. [Read more…]