After decades of athletic and administrative successes, Rhonda Blanford-Green feels quite proud of her efforts to mainstream athletes with Special needs into interscholastic activities in Colorado.
“I still get chills when I think about it, that is one of the real highlights of my career and leadership vision,” Blanford-Green said.
The former national sprint and hurdles record-holder at Aurora Central High School, University of Nebraska All-American and longtime Colorado High School Activities Association Assistant Commissioner said she grew up an “Army brat” with three brothers in a fiercely competitive family.
“I grew up thinking I could do anything, Title IX already existed in our house,” Blanford-Green said. “I played little league baseball, competed in gymnastics and dance.”
She arrived at Aurora Central as a sophomore after gymnastic success as a freshman in Fairbanks, Alaska. Although her national recognition came in track, Blanford- Green also was a cheerleader, member of the dance team and played volleyball.
“There was a lot of athletic ability but I have been blessed to have supportive parents, coaches and mentors, who pushed me to be the best I can be. They helped me elevate my natural talents,” she said.
In 1981, her senior year at Aurora Central, she set a new state record every time she competed. Her 1981 marks of 19 feet, 8 inches in the long jump and her times in the 100-meter dash and 30-inch hurdles stood as record for years. Her hurdles time was the best in the nation.
At the University of Nebraska, Blanford-Green was an undefeated conference champion in the indoor and outdoor hurdles, earning 18 conference titles. She was an 11-time All-American and former world record holder in the shuttle hurdles.
Following her collegiate career, Blanford-Green was a member and team captain of several U.S. Track & Field teams that competed internationally. She has been recognized in the University of Nebraska’s Top 25 Women in Sport and inducted into the Sportswoman of Colorado and the CHSAA halls of fame, as well as the Nebraska Black Sports Hall of Fame.
She was an educator and coach in Aurora Public Schools and served 16 years as an administrator at CHSAA. She served two years as the Associate Commissioner before becoming the Executive Director of the Nebraska School Activities Association in February of 2012. She currently is the Assistant Executive Director for the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.
She is married and has two children.
It’s possible her greatest accomplishment in Colorado was as a role model for young high school athletes as she worked countless state events for CHSAA. Her magnetic personality and energy has inspired many young women.
“I was taught to use my talents to make a contribution,” Blanford-Green said.
“I am humbled by the recognition I have received for doing what I love. I have had many firsts — the first African-American female in more than a century (in the country) to serve as a high school association Executive Director and first to serve as a CHSAA Administrator. Now, I am the first African-American female to be inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. It is heartwarming to know that I have opened some doors for others.”
I am humbled by the recognition I have received for doing what I love. I have had many firsts — the first African-American female in more than a century (in the country) to serve as a high school association Executive Director and first to serve as a CHSAA Administrator. Now, I am the first African-American female to be inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.