Let's hear it for the girls!
The number of females in the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame is about to increase with the upcoming inductions of basketball standouts Mary Ostrowski of Parkersburg Catholic and Vicky Bullett of Martinsburg.
Until this year, the only females to be inducted into the Hall of Fame were gold medal gymnast Mary Lou Retton and three golfers.
Now, they will have some much deserved company.
Every sport -especially one that is just starting out -needs a superstar. Someone who is so talented and heralded that they draw attention to the sport and in doing so make everybody in it that much better.
That's what Mary Ostrowski did for girls basketball in West Virginia.
Like any new sport, the quality of play wasn't outstanding.
There were few if any youth programs in which girls could participate and hone their skills.
In order to attract attention, girls basketball needed someone that could create interest in the sport and raise its profile
Enter Ostrowski, a three-time captain of the all-state team who led Parkersburg Catholic to three state championships (two in Class A and one in the now-defunct state Catholic tournament) and 88 straight wins.
She was the pioneer, the one who led girls basketball out of the wilderness and into the state spotlight.
It wasn't just her massive talent, which earned her a basketball scholarship to the University of Tennessee.
It also was the way she conducted herself and the class she exuded.
It was my pleasure to ride the bus with coach Doug Hoselton and the Crusaderettes on several occasions.
You learn a lot about people in such situations.
What I learned was this was a great group of young ladies who represented themselves and their school in a first-class manner.
And while there was a strong supporting cast, there was no doubt who was the star of this show.
The Big Un.
She became the standard bearer by which all other West Virginia girls high school basketball players will be measured.
She brought life to a sport that was in need of some oxygen.
If West Virginia girls basketball had a logo, it would be Ostrowski, the Jerry West of Mountain State girls basketball.
She paved the way for all those who followed, like Susan Robinson, Bullett, Renee Montgomery and Alexis Hornbuckle.
Plus, basketball was and remains the most high-profile girls prep sport.
As the level of play in it improved, the basketball athletes eventually got involved in other sports such as volleyball and softball, which became state sanctioned activities.
The West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame simply wouldn't be complete without Mary Ostrowski, whose induction ceremony is set for April 29.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org