WWW. Y E A R O F T H E M I G H T Y MA C S . C OM
so.” I really had to hustle to get it all completed because it would have
been quite embarrassing if, after all the national publicity, I wouldn’t
graduate. I passed.
For me, it was time to graduate and get on with the rest of my life.
Our commencement was held outdoors on campus that May. It was a
gorgeous day. Because Rose Kennedy, who had previously agreed to be
the speaker, had become ill, Larry Kane, the news anchor for the ABC
affiliate, gave the commencement address. When I walked to the stage to
receive my diploma, my father, who had been very reserved at the games,
left his seat to greet me. He gave me a warm hug. It was a moment I’ll
never forget. After the ceremony, we marched to the Rotunda and tossed
our mortar boards in the air.
I was going to be married in June. I knew my life was about to
That year the team that had won the AIAW championship was
being rewarded with a trip to Australia in the summer to play a series
of exhibition games. I had already told Cathy I couldn’t make it. After
the tournament, she told me that if I didn’t go, the trip was off. She said,
“They’re not going to let the rest of the kids go.” So I got married, went
on our honeymoon, returned home, and went to practice at camp. Karl
dropped me off at the Poconos for five days. We flew out after that.
Cathy was eight months pregnant with her second son, Michael, and
she couldn’t make the trip. She sent her assistant, Pat Walsh, and Billie
Moore, the coach at Cal State, Fullerton, in her place.
We were gone a month. It took 24 hours to get over there. We went to
New Zealand first, then to Australia. We were billeted in private homes.
Our hosts tried to entertain us.We went to a petting zoo, whereMarianne
went into the paddock to hold the paw of a kangaroo. She was lucky that
the animal didn’t kill her, but she was certainly frightened by its jumping
and kicking. It was a long trip, but we had a lot of fun. When we finally
played the last game in Australia, I thought I would never touch a ball
again. There were no pro leagues for women. We put our uniforms away,
but we knew we would never put away our memories.
For me, it was my relationship with the Sisters at Immaculata and
at Camilla that made that particular stage in my life so special. When
I think back to that time, I realize there was an incredible spirit on that
campus, and the Sisters were as much a part of our winning as we were.
I had a great time at Immaculata. Sister Kathleen Mary Burns once
told me, “Theresa, this is your Camelot.” And it was. And it still is. And
it always will be.
When, in 1997, we held a 25th anniversary celebration for our first
championship game, Sister Marian William Hoben, IHM, president
emerita of Immaculata, wrote a lovely tribute for us which she called
Rememberwhen the college’s name appearedonagame program
as “ImmaculataStateCollege”? Remember theAshWednesdaynight
whenwe returned fromadefeat atQueens (breakinga35-gamewinning
streak) tobe greetedby the entire student body in theRotunda?
And remember Theresa, with her hand raised above her
head, shouting, “I promise you another national championship
this year!” Remember how the other teams giggled because
our players wore skirts and hair ribbons? Remember how each
girl washed her one and only uniform in the bathroom sink?
Remember when someone’s skirt was lost in the laundromat?
Remember the two seniors who complained to Sister Marie
Antoine that Immaculata was becoming a “ jock college”?
Remember those practices in the basement of Villa, and then
later in the novitiate?
Remember that glorious game in Madison Square Garden,
where we were billed first in a double-header because the second
game (the men’s game) was expected to be the real drawing card?
And, remember how, after that Immaculata-Queens game was
over (we won, of course) thousands of spectators left the Garden
because they had really come to see the Macs play?
Remember the 28-hour ride toManhattan, Kansas? Remember
the 20-minute wait while the officials studied the rule book to see
if Theresa would be allowed to shoot a foul shot after the whistle
had blown at the end of the game? Remember Kung Fu? Remember
Mary’s three-pointers before they became fashionable? Remember
the man who thought our girls were novices because there were so
many Sisters at the games? Remember when Cathy, on the sidelines
with her clipboard, tried to illustrate a play, only to have one of
our players ask, “Mrs. Rush, are we the x’s or the o’s?” Remember?
Remember? Remember? These were truly the “glory days.”
And they were!