I MMA C U L ATA U N I V E R S I T Y
of laps short of three miles. That night, we got together and ran the rest.
We got our three miles in.
It taught us a lesson. She was the coach and she made the rules.
All of our games were on WCOJ, a small radio station in Coatesville
with a limited range. Art Douglas did the play-by-play, but his voice
reached only so far. I don’t think the signal reached Delaware County,
where most of us lived.
I still remember Judy Marra telling me her folks would drive out to
Chester County just so they could pick up the signal and listen to our
games when we were on the road.
Camilla Hall was the infirmary and retirement home for IHMSisters
on our campus. All the Sisters who were there were definitely following
us, too, listening to our games on the radio. In January of that year, Sister
Marie Roseanne called me into her office and said to me, “Theresa, I’d
like you to go down to Camilla Hall and thank the Sisters for praying for
I was hesitant but agreed to do it. Originally, I was just going to
go in, get on the switchboard and say, “This is Theresa Shank, and we
appreciate all your prayers. Thank you.”
When I arrived, Sister Rose Immaculatemet me at the front door and
took me through the entire house. I met all the Sisters who had served
and had given their entire lives to the church. Now they were so involved
in what we were doing. They were running back and forth to the chapel,
praying for us whenever they felt we were in trouble during our games.
It was really touching and at the same time, very humbling.
The National Tournament in 1974 was held at Kansas State in
Manhattan, Kansas. The town was known as the “Little Apple.” The
entire place was painted in the school colors, purple and white. The field
house was purple. The mail boxes were purple. The men wore purple
ties. That was the first year the AIAW had allowed schools that gave
athletic scholarships to participate in the tournament.
Wayland Baptist College in Texas was supposed to be our most
dangerous competitor. We didn’t know much about them, but
the “Flying Queens” had a legendary heritage. They once won 132
consecutive games in the 1950s, long before Connecticut thought about
breaking UCLA’s record of 88 straight wins in the NCAA competition.
They were a barnstorming team that recruited heavily, signing some of
the best players from AAU ball. The team flew to road games in private
Beechcraft airplanes. As it turned out, we never got a chance to play
them. They were upset in the first round by Indiana.
Our first game was against Kansas State. We played absolutely awful.
I fouled out. So did two other starters. But we survived, which had to be a
relief for those bus loads of our fans who had made the 23-hour trip into
the heart of the Midwest to watch us play.
After that game, we beat Indiana University, then William Penn
College from Iowa. Then we defeated Mississippi University for
Women, 68-53, for the national title. I scored 18 points in my final
college game. So did Tina Krah. We won the same day David Thomp-
son and North Carolina State upset Bill Walton and UCLA in the
NCAA men’s semi-finals at Greensboro, ending their string of eight
straight national championships.
The year before I had watched Walton score 44 points on TV at
Cathy’s house and knew he was going on to make millions in the NBA.
But this was it for me.
When our game finally ended, I felt relieved. More than 1,000
fans welcomed us home at the Philadelphia Airport. We disrupted the
United Airlines Terminal when our flight landed at gate D9 at 4:15 in the
afternoon. When we got off the plane, we all were wearing the cowboy
hats we had purchased on the trip. To us, Kansas City was the West.
There were cowboys and tumbleweeds. I know somebody wanted to
bring home a tumbleweed, but I didn’t think that would work.
I had taken a full load of academic credits (15) every semester. As the
end of the school year grew near, I kept gettingmessages fromprofessors,
telling me to get my work in. “Theresa Shank, please report to so-and-
Conway, Judy Marra,
Shank, Cathy Rush,
Rene Muth, Tina
Krah, Mary Scharff.
, Sister Rita
Regina, Sister Kathleen
Mary, Sister Marian
Bernard, Sister Maria
Christi, Sister M.
Theresia, and Sister