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The 1990’s saw some of the best girls’ basketball in Bergen County history and Ridgewood High School was one of the premier programs of that era. Linda Zabielski was the player that set the bar and led the team that began what was a magical run for the Lady Maroons. In her senior year she led Ridgewood to a team record of 30-4, the Bergen County Championship, the New Jersey Group IV Sectional Championship, the NJ Group IV State Championship, and a berth in the final of the New Jersey Tournament of Champions. Zabielski was a serious and focused competitor who was always ready to take the big shot or make the big play especially in the biggest games. She set a great example for the younger girls on the team with her work ethic and tenacity.
By the end of her career she had been recognized with almost too many accolades to list. Zabielski spent her freshman and sophomore years at Paramus Catholic before her family moved to Ridgewood and she enrolled at Ridgewood Highs School for her junior and senior years. As a combined four year varsity starter at the two schools she scored a total of 1628 points and was a four time 1st Team All-NNJIL selection, a 3 time First Team All-Bergen County selection and set the Bergen County Girls single game scoring record for a sophomore while playing for PC with 32 points. She also earned three Varsity letters in softball and a varsity letter in tennis while at RHS.
Her senior year is one that RHS basketball fans will remember for a long, long time. After leading the team to the aforementioned 30-4 record and championships, Zabielski was acknowledged as the
“Athlete of the Week,” a berth in both the Bergen-Passaic and New Jersey North-South All-Star games as well as the MVP of the Group IV State Championship Tournament. She was First Team All-NNJIL, First Team All-Suburban, First Team All-Area, First Team All-Bergen County, First Team All-State, and was named to the Bergen Record’s 1990’s All-Decade Team. She accepted a full athletic scholarship to the University of New Hampshire to play basketball. Another in the long line of “student athletes” at Ridgewood High School Linda was also an Honor Student at Ridgewood High and that came more into focus once she got to University of New Hampshire where she realized she wanted to focus on academics. She transferred to New York University on an academic scholarship where she became a member of the prestigious University Scholar Program, a Rhodes Scholar Finalist and #2 in her graduation class. After graduating from New York University she received a PH.D in Clinical Psychology from Long Island University and is now a clinical psychologist in private practice in Ridgewood. Bergen Record
Zabielski will be remembered by those who saw her play and compete on the hardwood for Ridgewood High School as an intense, focused and intelligent player. She was someone who did not mind pressure, in fact, she thrived on the pressure. The bigger the game the more apt she was to make a big play. There may be no bigger single play in the history of Ridgewood High School girls basketball than the what transpired in the Group IV Finals at Monmouth University her senior year. Ridgewood was down 55-54 against a powerful Piscataway team ranked #7 in the State of New Jersey with only :02 to play. Ridgewood gained possession on the baseline 94 feet from their basket on a jump ball change of possession caused by Zabielski. The Lady Maroons
Jodi Hartwig (RHS Class of 1991, Hall of Fame Class of 2004) took the ball out of bounds with a pass to Zabielski near half court. Zabielski took two quick dribbles and fired a 50 foot pass to a streaking Suzanne Patterson for the winning lay-up as the buzzer sounded and the girls stormed the floor to celebrate the only Girls Basketball Group IV State Championship in school history. A big play, in a big game, at a big moment and Linda Zabielski executed it flawlessly and without hesitation. A great player with great accomplishments both in the classroom and on the court she rightfully takes her place amongst the best student athletes in the history of Ridgewood High School in the Ridgewood High School Hall of Fame Class of 2012.