Mary Ostrowski, a former Kodak All-American who helped Tennessee to three Final Fours, died Friday in Abingdon, Va., the school announced Saturday. She was 51.
Ms. Ostrowski was the top-rated women’s basketball recruit in the nation at Parkersburg (W.Va.) Catholic High School before playing at Tennessee from 1980-84.
She was diagnosed in 2007 with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer.
“It’s a sad day for the Lady Vol basketball program,” UT coach Holly Warlick said through a school media release. “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.”
Ms. Ostrowski led Parkersburg Catholic to 88 consecutive victories, including Class A basketball titles in 1977 and 1978.
At Tennessee, the 6-foot-2 forward, scored 1,729 points and grabbed 994 rebounds. She currently ranks 10th and fifth, respectively, in those categories.
Ms. Ostrowski was a 1982 Kodak All-American and SEC All-Tournament Team member and an All-SEC selection in 1982 and 1984. She averaged 15.9 points and 8.6 rebounds as a senior.
Tennessee advanced to NCAA Final Four in 1981, 1982 and 1984 during Ms. Ostrowski’s career. She was a member of the U.S. National Team 1981-1983, helping the Americans win gold at the 1983 World University Games. She also played on the U.S. Junior National Team 1978-80.
She was inducted into the Lady Vols Hall of Fame in 2006.
In high school, Ms. Ostrowski was the first female winner and a three-time recipient of the Russell A. Thom Award (1977-79), which is presented to West Virginia’s top basketball player. In 2011, the West Virginia Sports Writers Association renamed the award the Mary Ostrowski Award. The organization also inducted her into the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2012 as its fifth female honoree.
A message expressing condolences was posted on former UT coach Pat Summitt’s Twitter account.
“Thinking of Mary O today. Love and prayers for her family. Once a Lady Vol, always a Lady Vol,” the message said.
Beth Hundman, Ms. Ostrowski’s sister, said a memorial had been scheduled for July 27 at the Knights of Columbus in Parkersburg.