PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Mary Ostrowski, one of the most decorated basketball players in West Virginia history, died Friday.
The Parkersburg News and Sentinel reported Saturday the Parkersburg native—nicknamed “Mary O”—lost her six-year battle with cancer at age 51.
Before becoming a standout at the University of Tennessee, Ostrowski led Parkersburg Catholic to state titles in 1977 and 1978 and sparked her team to an 88-game winning streak. She was a three-time high school state player of the year, an award that was renamed in her honor in 2011 by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
With the Lady Vols, the 6-foot-2 Ostrowski was a two-time, first-team All-American and MVP of the 1984 Final Four. She also helped the Lady Vols reach Final Fours in 1981 and 1982. Ostrowski compiled 1,729 points and 994 rebounds, totals that still rank 10th and fifth on the school’s career list.
“It’s a sad day for the Lady Vol basketball program,” Tennessee women’s coach Holly Warlick told the school’s website. “We’ve lost a member of our family, a true UT legend and a friend.
“Mary was a great person who battled this disease with the same fight and determination she displayed as a competitor on the basketball court. It’s difficult to process and accept the loss of a wonderful woman like Mary, and our hearts and condolences go out to her family.”
Ostrowski helped usher in a golden era for Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt, who encountered the high school freshman at a basketball camp during 1976 and presumed she was watching a college player.
Ostrowki became a member of the Lady Vols Hall of Fame in 2006 and joined the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
“Mary had a drive,” her high school coach Doug Hoselton told The News and Sentinel during a 2011 interview. “I can still remember her calling me every morning to open the gym up at 5:30 so she could get some work in.”
Ostrowski died in Abingdon, Va. She was diagnosed in 2007 with multiple myeloma—a type of cancer affecting plasma cells in bone marrow.
A memorial service is expected in Parkersburg in the near future.