Monica (Huelman) Zaruba, who earned fame on the basketball court in Vinton and at Iowa State University, has died following a brief illness. She was 40.

Monica, the daughter of Ken and Regina Huelman, died at 1 a.m. Sunday after being hospitalized for a week, Ken announced on his Facebook page.

“We love her so much and are proud of her accomplishments during her short life,” says Ken, who also added a word of thanks for all the kind words the family has received.

Monica, who had resided in the Cedar Rapids area for many years, graduated from Vinton-Shellsburg in 1996. She was Bill Fennelly’s first Cyclone recruit at ISU, where Fennelly simply called her “Mo.” Four years earlier, she had made a lasting impression on VS Coach Harold Shepherd when she arrived at Washington High School in 1992.

“I could tell from the start that she would have a lasting impact on basketball, not only at Vinton-Shellsburg, but throughout Iowa,” Shep told me five years ago. We interviewed Monica in 2012, when she was inducted into the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union Hall of Fame. She is also a member of the Vinton-Shellsburg Hall of Fame.

See a tribute to Monica on the Iowa State page HERE.

See our Vinton Today interview from 2012 HERE.