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Beckley’s Ziolkowski commits to play hoops for Herd

Olivia Ziolkowski hadn’t visited Marshall until last week.

One time was enough for the Woodrow Wilson High School senior to decide she wanted to be a part of the Thundering Herd women’s basketball program.

“That was the first time I’ve been there when I went to campus Friday, and I absolutely fell in love with it,” Ziolkowski said. “I’ve been in Huntington and driven around Marshall before, but that was my first time in the facilities. All their stuff was super nice, but what really stood out the most was how friendtly their girls and coaching staff were.”

Ziolkowski offered her commitment to Marshall on Monday, culminating a recruiting process that didn’t take off with the Herd until recently for the 6-foot-1 forward.

“One of my trainers took the first step for me and talked to [Marshall head coach Tony Kemper],” Ziolkowski said. “That put me out there and coach Kemper really liked me.”

Ziolkowski was a key part of the Flying Eagles’ success on the hardwood throughout her high school career and helped lead Woodrow Wilson to state tournament appearances in 2020 and 2021.

In 2022, Ziolkowski was an honorable mention all-state selection.

She also earned second-team all-state status as a volleyball player on a team that won a regional championship in 2021.

Ziolkowski prides herself on production, but also tries to consistently provide intangibles, something she hopes to bring to Huntington.

“The biggest thing I can bring to Marshall is my grit and intensity,” she said. “That’s something coach Kemper said he really liked about me and that it could help me excel at the next level. I’ll work on ball-handling, and even though I’m tall for a high school player, I’m not that big for a college player, so I’ll be getting more to a guard standpoint rather than a forward over the summer.”

Ziolkowski is eager to join a program she sensed held a special bond between players and coaches.

“As soon as I met the coaching staff and caught the end of the girls working out, everyone was so welcoming and that’s what sold it for me,” Ziolkowski said. “I could tell immediately their program is very family-oriented and it reminded me a lot of Beckley basketball. That’s what I was really looking for.”

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