Conspicuous by her absence, URI coach Cindy Blodgett still impresses

PORTLAND, Maine — It’s a shame people never get to see the other side of Cindy Blodgett.

Like the thoughtful Cindy who fielded my call last week to talk about her most recent basketball endeavor as an assistant coach at the University of Rhode Island.

Cindy, who turns 36 this month, was honest and direct. She shared numerous thoughts about her life, her job and the program.

It was Cindy’s first interview with the BDN since March 31, 2011, when she responded to her dismissal as the head coach at the University of Maine.

Then, she was unflinching and unapologetic. She was convinced the program was close to turning the corner after four difficult seasons.

This time, I could sense a hesitance about doing the interview. She wanted to avoid any hoopla involving her in regard to Saturday’s game.

It was about the players, not the coaches, she pointed out.

The 450 people who turned out at the Portland Expo to watch UMaine play Rhode Island (which won 51-38) didn’t get to see her at all.

Cindy was on a recruiting trip to a high school tournament somewhere in the Northeast.

And even though she had publicly revealed that fact to the BDN on Thursday, people were nonetheless curious Saturday about whether Cindy was at the game.

As far as the timing of the two simultaneous events, call it irony.

To be sure, Cindy has never enjoyed being in the spotlight — at least not after the final horn had sounded.

After that, she was content to disappear into the background, to live her life on her own terms.

She has done just that as a member of the URI staff under veteran head coach Cathy Inglese.

On Saturday, she had no motive to hide. She is still revered by Maine basketball fans for her unprecedented impact on the game during her playing days.

Cindy would have been welcomed warmly, even though many in the under-18 crowd at the Expo had never seen her play.

She would have smiled, waved politely to the crowd and gone to work. That would have been the end of it.

That isn’t much pressure for a woman who, as a player, scoffed at adversity and eagerly confronted any challenge.

She learned long ago to deal with public scrutiny and being under the media microscope.

Cindy could have dodged the whole Portland situation. She could have ignored phone calls from Maine reporters (she fielded at least two) and let Inglese explain away her absence.

That’s not who Cindy is and it’s too bad more people don’t realize that.

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About Pete Warner

Pete is a Bangor native who graduated from Bangor High School, Class of 1980. He earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He has been a full-time member of the Bangor Daily News Sports staff since 1984. Pete lives in Bangor with his wife of 26 years, Annia. They have two sons, Will and Paul. Pete speaks fluent Spanish and enjoys visiting his in-laws and friends in Costa Rica. His hobbys including hunting, fishing and listening to music.