Brogdon's feats still amazing

Before there was Maya Moore and Collins Hill and back when Greater Atlanta Christian had one building, Cindy Brogdon was the undisputed queen of girls basketball in Georgia.

A 5-foot-10 guard with a smooth outside shot, Brogdon dominated in the early 1970s at GAC. She earned four state tournament MVP honors, leading the Spartans to state championships in 1972, 1974 and 1975.

Her high school exploits - she scored 2,672 points - led to a history-making scholarship to Mercer. She was the first Georgia female to earn a full athletic scholarship, using it to average 30.1 in two seasons at the Macon school.

From there, she averaged a deceptive 20.8 points in two seasons for head coach Pat Summitt at Tennessee. She piled up 3,204 college points as a perimeter shooter, without the aid of the 3-point line.

"Pat always said if they'd had the 3-point line, Brogdon would have averaged 30 or 40 points a game," said Brogdon, who just finished her 18th year as a Fulton County educator and lives in Suwanee.

Roughly 30 years after her heyday, people still remember her skills. How she used to pack the stands at GAC's tiny gym. How she hit jumpers with her feet on the sideline or way outside, easily in what later became 3-point range.

Sometimes it's a faculty member asking her about the past. Sometimes she's stopped while out in public. Ask anyone who saw her play and they'll tell you how memorable she was.

"Cindy was, without a doubt, the best long-range female jump shooter I have ever seen, still, to this day," said GHSA director of media relations Steve Figueroa, who covered Brogdon's career for the Gwinnett Daily News. "Most people will remember her for her uncanny shooting ability, but she was also a great passer, rebounder and leader. She did things on the court that I haven't seen many players, male or female, do. She would do something amazing just about every game.

"If my life depended on somebody hitting one last jump shot, I would want Cynthia Jean Brogdon to take that shot."

That may still be the case with Brogdon, now 51. The health and physical education chair at Northview High, she won't turn down a challenge.

"Oh, I can still shoot," said Brogdon, rated by Sports Illustrated as one of Georgia's top 100 athletes (No. 72) of the 1900s. "I'll take anybody on in a game of H-O-R-S-E. No one-on-one though."

Brogdon has focused more on her administrative duties lately than coaching, a passion earlier in her career that included stints in basketball and softball at Northview and Centennial. But sports still plays a major role in her life.

A big runner and golfer, she also is heavily into fitness and weight training. She picks up a basketball from time to time, but her competitive days are over. Unless she is challenged with a game of H-O-R-S-E.

Brogdon said she enjoys working with young people, passing along the game to another generation. She plans to stay involved with athletics beyond her retirement, hoping to still take part in the opportunities that are available to female athletes in 2008.

Although she played on a 1976 Olympic silver medal team and played two years in the Women's Professional Basketball League, there was no long-term future for female basketball players in the late 1970s.

"I'm sure they play for the love of the game now, but when we played, we played for the love of the game because that was the only reason we played," Brogdon said. "There were no opportunities. There was no money in it. There were not many college opportunities.....Now it's more of a business.

"It's all about winning and having the top athletes, getting the best exposure, getting the most games on ESPN and having the most money."

It wasn't that way back in the 1970s, back when she was the undisputed basketball queen.

"When I look back on it, it wasn't about the winning and losing, it wasn't about the money I made as a professional," Brogdon said. "It was about the experiences, the travels and the people I met."

"Catching up with..." is a series that profiles former Gwinnett County athletes and their lives beyond high school competition. This feature will run on Saturdays throughout the summer. If you have suggestions about former standouts, send them to sports@gwinnettdailypost.com.