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Janice Olszewski Janice Olszewski
Inducted: 2002 - Graduated: 1979

One of the first sports to manifest the impact of Title IX gender equity

was basketball. In the mid- to late 1970s, high school women’s basketball

vaulted to a new level as top female athletes gravitated toward a

sport that had long been a crowd-pleaser on the male side. Athletes

such as Mary Brechbiel of Albertus Magnus, Denise McGuire of Pearl

River and Jane Ronner of Clarkstown North were generating headlines and attracting college scouts

with their hoops wizardry.

Then there was Janice Olszewski. No comparisons can be drawn because there was no one like Janice

playing high school women’s basketball in the late 1970s. Six-feet two-inches, solid as Mount Rushmore,

an intimidating physical presence who was close to automatic when she got the ball in the low post.

Defensively, woe betide the opponent who drove the lane for a layup only to see Janice looming, blocking

her path and altering shot selection merely by positioning herself in the paint.

Those were exhilarating days, and Janice stood in the vanguard of the new era. "It was the beginning of

the spark of women’s sports; it was finally coming into its own," says Janice. "There were a lot of good

individuals and teams, and the local coverage in the newspaper was very strong. It was exciting to be part

of that."

By the time she had concluded her varsity career, Janice had rewritten the Rockland County record

book. She became the first Rockland schoolgirl to score 1,000 career points and wound up with 1,520

points, which stood as the Rockland County record for nine years. (It currently ranks seventh on the

all-time county list). "I’m surprised I held it for that long," says Janice, who was coached by Dale Abeling

her junior and senior years, Julie Schaefer her sophomore year and Lonnie Dall her freshman year.

Janice set the still-standing Rockland County record for scoring average in a season with 30.4 points per

game in the 1978-79 season. She scored 40 or more points in a game five times, 30 or more points 18

times, and pulled down 282 rebounds in 20 games for an average of more than 14 rebounds per game.

Besides seasonal scoring average, she also holds school records for free throws in a game (17) and season

(137) and shares the record (with Norinne Powers) for field goals in a game, 18.

A deadly accurate free-throw shooter, Janice shot 89.6 percent from the foul line her senior year. She

made first-team All-County as a junior and senior, second team as a sophomore and honorable mention

as a freshman. In addition to basketball, Janice played varsity tennis all four years—doubles her first year

and singles her last three years—under coaches Barbara Stronczer and Diana Vartabedian. She was

awarded a Black & Gold scholarship at the conclusion of her stellar high school career.

Janice earned a full scholarship to LaSalle University in Philadelphia, an NCAA Division I institution,

where she played all four years on varsity. She was the first player off the bench her first three years, then

cracked the starting lineup her senior year, when LaSalle won the East Coast Conference championship

to earn an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. Janice led the team in field goal percentage her

junior and senior years.

Janice, who is 41, now lives in Mineola, N.Y., and is a captain in the Emergency Medical Services division

of the New York City Fire Department, headquartered in Brooklyn. She is a 15-year FDNY veteran.