There were no girls' sports teams at Maloney High School when Cindi Birdsey, a 1963 graduate, attended. However, that most certainly did not stop her from a lifelong love of athletics! As a player, she enjoyed a successful basketball career at Southern Connecticut State College, and rose to play softball at the ASA level. As a coach, she led both the soccer and softball programs at Maloney. Cindi also became a well-respected official throughout the state and region. Now, she appreciates the opportunity to watch and support her grandchildren's sporting endeavors.
“My father taught me, and I loved everything about it,” Cindi said of basketball. She lists her dad, who used to play her in “knockdown, drag out one-on-ones” in the family driveway, as the biggest influence on her basketball career. Former Southern Connecticut coach Louise O'Neal, who is a member of both the Connecticut Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee, also had a big impact on her life.
Cindi began playing basketball for the Meriden Girls’ Club, and also enjoyed swimming there in the summer, and at the YMCA in the winter. She went on to play guard for O’Neal’s basketball teams at Southern, where she earned her degree in health and physical education. Her sporting endeavors, for the SCSC Owls, also included field hockey (fullback) and track and field (discus, shot put, 800). Cindi earned induction into the Connecticut ASA Hall of Fame in 2013, for her slow-pitch softball career (1974-1988) as a left fielder.
For 13 years, spanning the 1970s and 80s, Cindi refereed high school girls' basketball in Connecticut, and college women's basketball games throughout New England. She has fond memories of being assigned her first high school state championship game, as well as working a Division I collegiate regional final game at Harvard. Her career also included reffing an Ivy League championship game at Dartmouth. Cindi has been chosen as the New Haven Tap-Off Club Referee of the Year, and in 2010 was honored by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference with a Merit Award. If she had to change one thing about basketball, it would be the three-second rule, if only to prevent fans from yelling alleged violations from the stands.
“Have fun,” Cindi said, when asked if there was any advice she would give to young players, coaches or referees. “The game is so much more enjoyable if you totally prepare yourself. Work hard in practice and the game will be fun.”
Cindi, a Wallingford resident, taught physical education at Maloney High School for 30 years, retiring in 2007. She coached the softball team there for 19 seasons, winning the league championship in 1990, and served as head girls' soccer coach for five years. She enjoys working out, gardening, cooking and baking, decorating, taking care of her dogs and the beach.