Many Polythinkers think they know Maureen Braziel. A fixture at the University for a quarter century, she serves as head judo coach and athletic director. What many people may not know is that she is a pioneer in female athletic competition.
Braziel’s silver medal at the British Open in 1971 kicked open the door for women to compete in international judo tournaments. The American Athletic Union, which had not sanctioned girls’ and women’s competitions, finally relented after Braziel’s triumph and established the National Judo Championship for Women in 1974. Braziel won the grand championship that year, and again in 1976 and 1977. In 1975, she won the gold medal in the heavyweight division at the fourth international judo championships in Lausanne, Switzerland. That same year, she also received the AAU’s Most Outstanding Player Award for both men and women.
Braziel’s exploits are recounted in the Encyclopedia of Women and Sport in America.