Mary Ostrowski, the most decorated female basketball player in the history of Parkersburg, passed away in Abingdon, Va., on Friday at the age of 51, her brother, Eric Ostrowski, reported.
A standout basketball player at Parkersburg Catholic, Ostrowski was the first female in the state to win the Russell A. Thom Award, presented annually to the state's top player.
She won the award for three consecutive years, from 1977 to 1979.
The Parkersburg Catholic uniform of Mary Ostrowski is displayed in the hallway at the school. The former Crusaderette standout died on Friday at the age of 51. Ostrowski was inducted into the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
In 2011, the West Virginia Sports Writers Association renamed the award the Mary Ostrowski Award.
Ostrowski led Parkersburg Catholic to 88 consecutive wins, including the Class A state championships in 1977 and 1978.
Following her high school career, she signed to play for the University of Tennessee and legendary coach Pat Summitt, where she led the Lady Vols to three NCAA Final Four appearances and was twice named as a first team all-American.
She also was named the MVP of the Final Four.
Ostrowski received numerous honors for her illustrious career, winning the Hardman Award as the W.Va. State Amateur Athlete of the Year. She is a member of several athletic halls of fame, including the Lady Vols Hall of Fame at the University of Tennessee.
She was a charter member of the Mid Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 and became the fifth female to be inducted into the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2012 by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
The Big O, as she lovingly was known, had been fighting a battle with cancer for several years.
Her athletic exploits in Parkersburg were legendary and weren't all limited to the basketball court. She played Little League baseball in what otherwise was an all-boys league and was a dominating pitcher.
"Mary had a drive,'' her high school coach, Doug Hoselton, recalled. "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, who made her own funeral arrangements, elected to be cremated. The family is planning some type of ceremony in Parkersburg to honor her memory.
Ostrowski, whose mother Freda passed away last May, is survived by her father, Chester Ostrowski; two brothers, Paul and Eric Ostrowski; and a sister, Beth Hundman.