By Kyle Neddenriep
It was exactly 14 years ago on Tuesday when Shanna Zolman needed 50 points to break the state’s girls basketball career scoring record.
Zolman remembers it as if it were yesterday. She can remember where certain friends and family members were sitting in the Elkhart North Side Gym, among more than 4,800 others. She remembers that her brother couldn’t be there and would be able to see her break the record in the next game.
“I remember telling my dad and family beforehand that if it’s one of those games where it feels like I’m shooting the ball into the ocean, I’ll go for it,” she said. “It was one of those feelings like I was just in a zone.”
Zolman, the former Wawasee High School star, scored exactly 50 points that night in an 82-40 win over Elkhart Memorial to nudge one point ahead of Stephanie White into the top spot on the Indiana high school girls basketball career scoring list. She went on to finish her career with 3,085 points to become the first girls player – and fourth overall – in state history to eclipse 3,000 points.
Zolman will step aside as the all-time leader, possibly as early as Thursday. Princeton star senior Jackie Young, who set the single-season scoring record as a junior, needs 28 points to vault to the top of the list. The Class 3A No. 1 Tigers are at Wood Memorial on Thursday night.
Though Zolman hasn’t seen Young in person, she’s read and heard enough to like her.
“I’ve always hoped when the day would come that somebody would break the record, it would be somebody like Jackie,” Zolman said. “From what I’ve gathered, she’s a really hard worker and somebody who isn’t seeking records. She’s just doing it naturally though the flow of the game.”
It was that way for Zolman, a 5-10 point guard who played for her father, Kem, in high school. At Wawasee, a school of 962 students in the northeast Indiana community of Syracuse, Zolman was an immediate impact player. By her sophomore season, there were comparisons to White – who set the record at Seeger from 1991-95 – and already talk that she could break the record.
“It’s easy to talk about all the points, but the thing that sticks out to me is that she is doing this with two or three people guarding her,” her father, Kem, told IndyStar in February 2000.
Zolman led the state in scoring all four of her high school seasons. The record-setting night against Elkhart Memorial was one of her four 50-or-more point career games.
The crowd booed briefly that night when Zolman’s father, who is still the coach at Wawasee, took her out in the third quarter for a breather. Zolman came back in the game and scored the record-setting basket on a steal and layup in the fourth quarter. She finished the game shooting 19-for-24 from the field and 7-for-11 from the 3-point line.
The memory of that game remains etched in her mind.
“I’m happy for Jackie because it’s a moment that will always stay with her,” Zolman said. “It’s one of the greatest memories I have in my high school basketball career because of how it unfolded.”
Two weeks later, then-Tennessee coach Pat Summitt attended Zolman’s final high school game, a 44-42 loss to Columbia City in the sectional. Zolman, who signed with Tennessee, went on to win IndyStar Miss Basketball and Gatorade Player of the Year. She was also co-MVP of the McDonald’s All American Game.
Following an outstanding career at Tennessee, where she ranks ninth in career scoring (1,806 points), Zolman played four seasons in the WNBA with the San Antonio Silver Stars and Tulsa Shock, averaging 7.9 points and shooting 41 percent from the 3-point line. Two knee injuries cut her playing career short.
Zolman now lives in Seattle, where she is the director of women’s ministry for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“I’m trying to keep my foot in the athletic realm and also share my passion and love of Jesus,” she said. “That’s what makes me click. I’m definitely looking to expand and do more in the next four or five years. I really enjoy speaking around the country and sharing my passion and experiences. That’s where my focus is right now.”
For someone who said she “started playing basketball out of the womb,” it is perhaps surprising to hear Zolman say she doesn’t miss playing competitively. Occasionally, she’ll participate as a practice player with one of the college teams in the Pacific Northwest that she works with.
Other than that, she’s at peace with moving on to the next stage of her life.
“I’m around athletes a lot but I don’t miss the competitive drive of it,” she said. “When that left, I knew I was done. I play a little bit and I still enjoy it, but my knee might say otherwise.”
Zolman recorded a message for Young via video and sent it to her high school coach. She hopes Young takes a minute and enjoys the moment. Because it’s one she’ll remember forever.
“It’s a big deal,” Zolman said. “I just wanted her to know that it’s a big deal and congratulate her. It’s something that will always stay with her.”