When the passion and love of the game left her, the former Wawasee High School superstar knew it was time to find another pursuit to fill her life.
Zolman, who was waived by the Tulsa Shock of the WNBA in mid May, has closed the book on her playing career for good. The 28-year old is now focused solely on her passion of ministry and mentoring.
“It’s been awesome,” said Zolman of stepping away from the game she dedicated much of her life too. “I never thought the transition would be as easy as it’s been since I loved it (basketball) for so long.
“It’s just been a blessing and very easy to do. I love ministry and I love mentoring. It’s a huge passion of mine. I prayed that I would find something that I had a passion greater than basketball for and God had a plan for me.”
Zolman last played for Tulsa during the 2010 season in the WNBA. The 2002 Miss Basketball and state’s all-time leading prep scorer among females with 3,085 points, missed the 2011 season with a torn ACL. The injury was the same one that cost her the 2008 season.
“I had full intentions of playing this year,” said Zolman in a recent phone interview from Seattle. “I had rehabbed and I felt confident and in great shape. But, I got to training camp and I wasn’t the same player mentally or physically. It just wasn’t what I anticipated.
“I wasn’t devastated at all when they cut me. I said thank you God that he closed that door. Tulsa called me later and wanted me to join the team, but my heart was in other places. I knew I couldn’t give them 100 percent.”Zolman, who starred for her father/coach Kem at Wawasee High School, now works with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“I’m doing various forms of ministry and I love it,” Zolman said. “I have a heart for people who are hurting and I enjoy speaking.”
Zolman spent much of her time recovering from knee surgery last year rehabbing while staying in Knoxville with Pat Summitt, her former coach at Tennessee.
Summitt, the face of women’s basketball and owner of eight national championships, had to step down as UT coach this past April at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season. Summitt, who turned 60 on June 14, announced last August that she had been diagnosed three months earlier with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Summitt, who was named head coach emeritus at UT upon her resignation, is college basketball’s all-time winningest coach male or female. She posted a 1,098-208 record in her 38 seasons at UT.
“She’s much more than a coach,” said Zolman of the legendary Summitt. “She’s done so much for me and helped me so much. She’s so much more than basketball. She’s just a caring, generous person. She’s been a blessing to me.
“It stinks and it’s hard and rough to see her go through this. She’s been a second Mom to so many young ladies. She is a pioneer. She put women’s basketball on the map with her passion and work ethic. When you think about women’s basketball, you think coach Summitt.”Zolman, who says her knee is fine, knows that basketball has been a key part of everything in her life.
“Basketball has opened so many doors for me,” stated Zolman. “God has orchestrated all of that and it’s definitely been a blessing. Basketball has been great to me and it’s great to be tied to it. The most important thing is that it has allowed me through a game I love to have an avenue to share my faith with so many people.”
Zolman, who also says she has not picked up a basketball since training camp, was back in the area in March. The former deadly sharpshooter said she plans to be back in Syracuse again sometime this summer.
“Home is Home,” Zolman remarked. “A lot changes, but home is home and I always enjoy coming back to Syracuse. I still appreciate the small town and being from it. It’s very special to me.”
Zolman, who scored 1,706 points at UT, wants her playing career to be remembered for much more than all the points scored and all the clutch 3-pointers that she swished through the basket.
“I want people to remember that I played with a lot of heart and passion for the game,” said Zolman. “But, the biggest thing is that I represented Jesus Christ. I want them to remember and know that first and foremost.”