Letters to the Editor
Published: October 13, 2011
To the Editor:
I just previewed the movie “The Mighty Macs” and was awed by how a basketball team from a small, all-girls Catholic college won the first three consecutive national women’s championships (1972-75). With no gym … and a young coach with no experience, they beat the best teams. Add to these deficits, the backdrop of the times that included drugs, women’s lib and the National Guard quelling riots on college campuses, the story becomes even more unbelievable.
What the Mighty Macs did have was extreme character. They also had a hardworking, focused coach who was willing to put her own resources and sweat into the game. In 1971, Coach Kathy Rush was hired for the grand sum of $450 per month to coach Immaculata College’s basketball team.
“Why our kids’ success—and happiness—may depend less on perfect performance than on learning how to deal with failure,” headlines the New York Times Magazine (Sept. 18). It highlights studies showing how talent, I.Q. and income level are less important than true grit, perseverance, empathy, fairness, bravery and self-control in achieving goals. The article makes clear that without character, an individual cannot negotiate a path through tough times, which are inevitable over a lifetime.
Universities, especially Catholic ones, instilled character when I attended 40 years ago. I know because I graduated from Immaculata College in 1971, the year Kathy Rush was hired and the gym burned down. The Mighty Macs story is familiar to me, but I forgot just how many obstacles littered their path to fame. I also forgot just how insulated our lives were against the tumultuous times.
On each dormitory floor lived a nun who watched over us and reminded us to “Stay nice.” There was no question of bringing men into our rooms; it would have meant automatic expulsion. What would our parents say? … An evening curfew required us to sign in and sign out at the front desk where sister monitored our comings and goings. … Making a difference in the life of a student was their pay. And they did it not only on the basketball court but in the classroom. Many of the girls went on to study at universities like Harvard and University of Pennsylvania and became doctors. In fact, one of my fellow students is a branch chief at the CDC in Atlanta.
Sadly, the Might Macs story would be difficult to repeat today with the competitiveness of college sports and the million dollar budgets dedicated to coaching and travel. Immaculata cannot compete in this kind of arena. But it remains a small but coed Catholic university, still upholding the values I learned so many years ago.
This is not the first story about a team coming from behind to win a national championship, but in this time of polarized politics, economic decline and high unemployment, it is a reminder that if we are people of character, we can overcome a confluence of difficulties and come out winners in life. This compelling, inspirational story will open in theaters nationwide Oct. 21. I will see the movie again with my family to remember my good fortune in earning a degree in biology under the good care of the Immaculate Heart of Mary sisters that prepared me for a career in environmental science.
Susan Jezsik Varlamoff
Immaculata College, 1971
To the Editor:
Worldwide Marriage Encounter is sponsoring World Priest Day on the last Sunday in October (Oct. 30), which coincides with the Serra Club’s Priesthood Sunday. … The mission and purpose of World Priest Day is to celebrate and affirm the men who commit their lives to the Lord and the Church through the sacrament of Holy Orders. It is an opportunity for Catholic parishioners to thank, affirm and share their love and support for priests. … On this day, or during the week preceding or following it, Catholics across the country are encouraged to develop one or several activities to affirm priests. … Go to wpd.wwme.org for ideas that you can use. The World Priest Day National Coordinating Team encourages you to celebrate the priests you know and love. For more information call (800) 795-5683 or visit wpd.wwme.org.
Roger and Annie Borrello
Worldwide Marriage Encounter—Atlanta Area
To the Editor:
Regarding the execution of Troy Davis, the clear and direct statement from our Georgia bishops to the Board of Pardons and Paroles is deeply appreciated. This statement reads: “We believe that the death penalty is not compatible with the Gospel.” May this message be preached in all of our Catholic churches throughout the state and around our country. Thank you, dear bishops, for boldly preaching justice.
Sister Patty Caraher, OP