100 in 100: Carteret County’s Mindy Ballou Fitzpatrick, a surfing and basketball star

After an All-American basketball career at South Carolina, the Morehead City native became a world-class surfer

Mindy Ballou Fitzpatrick became a championship surfer after her collegiate basketball career was over. (Photo courtesy of N.C. Sports Hall of Fame)

North State Journal’s 100 in 100 series will showcase the best athlete from each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. From Alamance to Yancey, each county will feature one athlete who stands above the rest. Some will be obvious choices, others controversial, but all of our choices are worthy of being recognized for their accomplishments — from the diamond and gridiron to racing ovals and the squared circle. You can see all the profiles as they’re unveiled here.

Carteret County

Mindy Ballou Fitzpatrick

It took a free T-shirt to help Mindy Ballou Fitzpatrick become a Hall of Famer.

Her accomplishments on the basketball court at West Carteret High School and the University of South Carolina were noteworthy in their own right. But what set her apart and ultimately caught the attention of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame was her record as a champion surfer. It’s a success she might not have attained without the aforementioned shirt.

“I wasn’t real competitive about it, which isn’t like me because I’m a competitive person,” Ballou Fitzpatrick said of her early surfing career on the Outer Banks. “I just loved it. It was kind of a breakaway from basketball and I got a T-shirt if I entered a contest. That’s when it started.”

The Morehead City native’s competitive juices started flowing again once those contests began, and she went on to win the Women’s Amateur National Championship at Sebastian Inlet, Florida, in 1994. She followed that up by winning five Eastern Surfing Association titles along with numerous district and regional championships.

Mindy Ballou Fitzpatrick, who was a three-time All-American basketball player at South Carolina and a championship surfer, became the first inductee into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame from Carteret County. (Photo by Lauren Rose)

Though her surfing skills were likely the element that put her over the top as a Hall of Famer, it was Ballou Fitzpatrick’s basketball talent that first began to get her noticed. She was named all-conference in all four of her high school seasons, earning three county Player of the Year honors while setting single-game, season and career scoring records.

At South Carolina, she scored 1,199 points between 1982-86. But it was her prowess as a playmaker that helped her become a three-time All-American and the No. 6 player in a recent ranking of all-time Gamecock women’s basketball greats. She still holds the school record for assists in a season with 219, and her career total of 595 is the second-most in school history nearly three decades later.