KNOXVILLE (UT Sports) - Mary Ostrowski, a member of the Lady Vol Hall of Fame and one of the all-time greats in UT women's basketball history, passed away on Friday at the age of 51 in Abingdon, Va., her brother, Eric Ostrowski, told the Parkersburg (W.Va.) News and Sentinel.
Ostrowski, who starred at Parkersburg Catholic High School before becoming the first No. 1 rated recruit to sign and play for Pat Summitt at Tennessee from 1980-84, had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, in 2007.
According to her brother, the family is planning a service in Parkersburg to honor her memory. Details have not been announced.
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.
"It's a sad day for the Lady Vol basketball program," Tennessee Head Coach Holly Warlick said. "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."
A 2006 Lady Vol Hall of Fame inductee and 1985 UT graduate with a degree in business administration, Ostrowski was a 6-foot-2 forward who scored 1,729 points and grabbed 994 rebounds during her career. She currently ranks 10th and fifth, respectively, in those statistical categories at UT. Only Chamique Holdsclaw (1,295), Glory Johnson (1,218), Sheila Frost (1,043) and Tamika Catchings (1,004) had more boards than the gifted player many called "Mo" or "Big O."
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 and tallied career numbers of 13.8 ppg. and 8.0 rpg. to rank 10th and sixth all-time at UT, respectively. Known for her sweet hook shot, she led the team in scoring twice (1981-82, 1983-84) and was the squad's top rebounder on three occasions (1981-84).
During her time at Rocky Top, Ostrowski helped Tennessee advance to NCAA Final Fours in 1981, 1982 and 1984. She earned a bevy of postseason honors in her senior season, making the NCAA Final Four All-Tournament Team and NCAA Mideast Regional All-Tournament Team and being named the NCAA Mideast Regional MVP. Additionally, she was the NCAA Tournament leading scorer and rebounder during that 1984 campaign.