LAS CRUCES – Paulina Blunt was a star athlete and student in Oñate’s first graduating class and one of the first local women’s basketball scholarship athletes at New Mexico State.
Blunt passed away this week in the Bay area of California, where she resides. Blunt was 50 years old.
“We called ourselves the twins and everyone thought we were sisters,” said Anita (Maxwell) Skipper, the NMSU women’s program’s all time leading scorer. “She was a junior when I came in as a freshman and she immediately took me under her wing. I came in as one of seven freshmen. She could have seen me as competition, but she didn’t.”
Blunt competed in basketball, volleyball and track in high school. She graduated from Oñate in 1989 after averaging 22.5 points and 12.2 rebounds per game as a senior.
“I think she was one of the first women’s athletes from the area to get a Division I scholarship for women’s basketball,” said high school teammate Corrie Stone. “We went to all of her games and were always at her dorm.”
Like many who knew her, Stone remained in close contact with Blunt.
“She was a great mom,” Stone said. “She had her first child when she was in college. We all loved that girl in college.
“We stayed in touch and she supported me and my family through a lot of ups and downs. I’m going to miss her.”
Skipper and Blunt formed half of what they called the “Quad Squad,” which also included Judy Bell and Kishia Edwards.
Blunt played at New Mexico State from 1989-94 and was a team captain for her final two seasons. She scored 1,148 points with 848 rebounds. She ranks 22nd in scoring and eighth in rebounding, and was a two-time All Big West player.
“My story would not be my story without Paulina,” Skipper said. “She was actually starting my freshman year when I was just hoping to play one day. She was injured early in the season against UTEP and (coach Mike Peterson) played me in her spot. We became this dynamic duo on the court, but one change in that story and you wouldn’t know who Anita Maxwell was. We are forever linked for multiple reasons.”
Following her career, Skipper kept in touch with Blunt and her family during her professional career overseas. Skipper is trying to coordinate a memorial in Las Cruces and has established a GoFund me page to help the family with costs.
“With everything that she gave to this community, we need to make sure we honor her appropriately,” Skipper said.