Elaine Piazza, Connecticut – 2012
“My girlhood dream was to become a professional athlete. Then reality set in; so I embarked on a 50 year journey as an advocate for girls and women in sports” This statement defines Elaine Piazza and her growth from an aspiring athlete to coach to athletic director, always with the mission of promoting girls in athletics.
It all began in 1962 when Bernice Nicolari (1992 New Agenda: Northeast Hall of Fame inductee) challenged the odds at a Connecticut high school and started the first girls’ basketball team. Elaine played on that team and continued to grow as an athlete. She excelled in softball and Elaine joined the Raybestos Brakettes, world champions of fast pitch softball and the “winningest American Sports Program of All-time (male or female)”.
Elaine initiated the girls’ sports program at Seymour High School with basketball, softball, and swimming. She was the first athletic director at Sacred Heart Academy and also started 3 girls’ programs there. Elaine was the co-founder of the Hamden Women’s Sports Federation which included all public and private schools in Hamden, Ct. She served as President of the New Haven Tap-Off Club for many years – the first sports organization in Connecticut to honor women players, coaches, and officials along with men. Her yearly Girls and Women in Sports Day includes pre-high school students, high school and alumnae women as well as pioneers from the 40’s like Louise Ives and Carolyn Vanacore.
Awards and honors for Elaine Piazza include: New Haven Tap-Off club Leadership Award and Hall of Fame membership, CT ASA Hall of Fame for softball, 25-year service award for the CT Association of Athletic Directors, and induction into the CT women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.