Last week, we had the great pleasure of meeting TNT Maddox, the newest member of the world famous Harlem Globetrotters. SHE is also the first female Globetrotter in almost 20 years and just the ninth woman to ever don the legendary team’s signature red, white and blue basketball uniforms. So, with hoops playing women on our minds, we want to tell you about a new film that is getting rave reviews. THE MIGHTY MACS, which opened last Friday, October 21st, is based on the incredible true story of the 1971-72 Immaculata College basketball team, the original Cinderella story in women’s basketball. Aside from the great cast – Carla Gugino, Marley Shelton and the Academy and Tony Award winning Ellen Burstyn – what interests us most about THE MIGHTY MACS, is the woman at the center of it all… Coach Cathy Rush. She was THE woman responsible for the team’s very unlikely rise to victory and a woman ahead of her time. Cathy Rush is a woman we all should know.
A pioneer in women’s sports, Cathy Rush was the head women’s basketball coach at Immaculata College (now University) from 1970-1977. At a time when women’s basketball used archaic rules, Cathy taught her teams more aggressive tactics, similar to those used by men’s teams, and achieved excellent results. She led Immaculata to three consecutive Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) National Championship titles from 1972-1974, five Eastern AIAW Championships, and two National AIAW Championship Runner-Ups. Overall, she guided the Mighty Macs to 6 consecutive final four appearances in her seven seasons with the college, attaining an amazing 149-15 career record (that’s a 91% winning percentage). Her overall accomplishments earned Cathy Rush induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame April 7, 2008. She was inducted into the women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.
As Tim Chambers, the writer, director and producer of THE MIGHTY MACS, tells his Hollywood rendition of the fact based story… It’s 1971. A new era is dawning in the country and in collegiate athletics, where a national champion will be crowned for the first time in women’s basketball. In the lead up to this historical season, major universities are preparing their game plans to win that first title. Meanwhile a tiny all-women’s Catholic college in Philadelphia has a more modest goal: find a basketball coach before the season begins. Providentially, Cathy Rush (Carla Gugino) is about to find Immaculata College.
From the beginning, Cathy’s challenges are as imposing as the big-school teams Immaculata will face on the court. She learns there is no gymnasium on campus, she receives little support from the school’s Mother Superior (Ellen Burstyn), and the school is in dire financial straits. To top it off, she may not even have enough players to field a team.
While it appears the Macs don’t have a prayer, all hope is not lost. With the help of Sister Sunday (Marley Shelton) – a spunky assistant coach – and the support of a booster club of elderly nuns, Coach Rush creates a new game plan that just might bring the team – and the school – together.
None of us have seen THE MIGHTY MACS just yet, but plan on it. The trailer leads us to believe it is a MUST SEE. Have a look for yourself.
More About Cathy Rush:
During her time at Immaculata College, Cathy Rush led players such as Theresa Shank Grentz, Rene Muth Portland, and Marianne Crawford Stanley, who became successful basketball coaches as well. In 1975, she coached the U.S. women’s basketball to the Pan American Games gold medal. After retiring as a coach, Cathy became the first female commentator for women’s basketball on national television in 1978. She has worked with NBC, CBS, ESPN, CBN, and PRISM.
Cathy is the founder and president of Future Stars Camps, which more than 100,000 children have attended. These camps, for both girls and boys, focus on basketball, field hockey, soccer, all sports, and sports and arts camps. A resident of Sarasota, Florida, Cathy has two sons and six grandchildren.
Cathy is a gifted public speaker offering a variety of topics to encourage and motivate young women and men alike. She is also a breast cancer survivor and serves as a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society.