Immaculata University Magazine - Spring 2011 - page 30

28
I MMA C U L ATA U N I V E R S I T Y
This was Mother Camilla—100 years ago. I
couldn’tbreathe.ForIrealizedthatIhadheardthis
very quote only two weeks before at a leadership
conference. And now, on this second encounter
with it, I determined it would be the motto of my
newwork as a development officer at Immaculata.
I began to breathemore easily.
ButifMotherhadmadetheplace,wehadmade
the time.We haddefied the odds and captured the
imagination of an entire nation. When we played,
there was no ulterior motive or financial gain for
anyone involved. We paid our own tuition. There
were no athletic scholarships for women in those
days before the passage of Title IX in 1972, which
mandated the same opportunities for us as for
menon the athletic fields. Our coach, CathyRush,
was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in
2008, but never mademore than $1,200 a year.
We had no athletic budget. We sold
toothbrushes to raise money to fly to our first
national tournament in Normal, Illinois. We had
to set up 500 folding chairs before each home
game because there were no bleachers. And there
was no professional league for women the way
there was for men.
In one game, we made a point of feeding one
of our players, Maureen Stuhlman, the ball so she
could have a big scoring night and get her picture
in Herm Rogul’s column,
People in the Crowd
in the old Evening Bulletin. Can you imagine
padding someone’s stats today just so she could get
a snapshot in the newspaper?
But shepromised tobuyusChinese fordinner.
But at least we could play like themen now.
Growing up, I learned to play by competing
against older boys in my neighborhood. But
when it came to playing organized basketball,
I played for Our Lady of Fatima in a Catholic
Youth Organization (CYO) League that used old,
six-players-on-a-side rules. Half court, limited
dribbles, two rovers. I didn’t want to play that way.
I’d cheat like mad tomake it up the court in three
dribbles, walking before I started and walking
after I finished.
At Cardinal O’Hara High School, where we
won three Catholic League championships in four
years,wewere still playing six-playerbasketball.
By the time I got to college the women’s rules
changed to five-on-five full court basketball.
We loved it.
And it showed.
Todaythereareremindersofoursuccessonthe
campus. Three national championship banners
hang fromthe rafters of the gyminAlumnaeHall,
as do the retired uniforms ofMarianne Crawford,
Mary Scharff, andme.
Immaculata had a chance to celebrate its
glorious heritage in October 2010 when the NBA
Philadelphia 76ers offered us a chance to sponsor
their home opener against the Miami Heat at
the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia.
Immaculata’s new vice president, Bob Cole, who
has a bold view of marketing, jumped at the
opportunity because he felt it would be a great
venue to give our growing university some well-
deserved exposure when the 76ers offered to
honor the members of our three-championship
teams at halftime.
The game was sold out. On the national
sports scene, everyone was talking about
LeBron James. After all, this would be his only
appearance in Philadelphia. However, if you
were in the concourses of theWells FargoCenter
or listened to the conversation in the seat next to
you, it was about how important that time was
in the history of women’s sports. Our night with
the 76ers was bathed in Immaculata blue.
During an honorary tip-off, I accompa-
nied our president, Sister Patricia Fadden, to
half-court to deliver the game ball to the of-
ficials. Our chorale sang the national anthem.
Our dance team performed. There were team
pictures on the Jumbotron, and the words,
“Find Your Higher Power,” jumped out on the
signage board on the side of the scorers’ table.
At halftime, nine of us – Marianne Crawford
Stanley,MarieLigouriWilliams, JanetRuchBoltz,
DeniseConwayCrawford,JanetYoungEline,Judy
Marra Martelli, Sue Forsyth O’Grady, Betty Ann
Hoffman Quinn, and I – were escorted to half-
court where we were honored for our pioneering
contributions to the sport. The event was first-
class all the way.
It would be difficult for most basketball fans
todaytonamethestartinglineupsofthoseteams,and
the young coach who brought national attention to
our tiny liberal arts college with its then-enrollment
of just 782 students. But what does resonate is that
our experience harkens back to a more innocent
time – a time when women’s college athletics were
extra-curricular activities, not just a revenue stream,
andwhichcreateda lasting impression for agroupof
peoplewhoplayed for the loveof the game.
I was privileged to be part of those teams.
And I feel honored to be part of any celebration
involving them because what we accomplished
was so great. In Camelot. Almost 40 years ago.
And nowwe get to do it again. Wow!
Most people don’t get to celebrate their
championships like that. Folks often ask me,
“Howmany more times do you think you can do
this? And I say, “As long as we’re still able to do it.”
It’s an evergreen story.
Our journey has now become a movie called
The Mighty Macs
, a fictionalized version of our
experiences. Immaculata put together a black-tie,
red-carpet screening as a fundraiser at the Franklin
Institute inPhiladelphia. In trueHollywood fashion,
we provided a photo-op for our guests to pose with
the three crystal national championship trophies
recently acquired by Immaculata. They are replicas
of the NCAA tournament championship trophies
whichwerenot availablewhenwewon the games.
Oh, well, better late than never!
We knew it was a combination of the right players with
the right coach at the right time. When you added in our
fierce determination to win, our ability to work hard
and our willingness to sacrifice for a common goal, we
were unstoppable.
—Theresa Shank Grentz
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