Immaculata University Magazine - Spring 2011 - page 41

asketball was becoming a 12-month-a-year sport for all
of us. At that point, Howard Garfinkel was running a
highly successful recruiting camp called “Five Star” in
Honesdale, Pa. It attracted elite boys’ prospects from all
over the East Coast. But there had never been any place for the best girls’
high schools to showcase their skills. So Ed and Cathy came up with the
idea of operating summer camps in the Poconos, and they hired most of
us as counselors. College players could teach during the day and would
stage pick-up games at night. I’m sure it gave the team a huge start going
into the season, but I never participated because I was working at a rival
camp for Howie Landa, who was paying me $50 a week and helping me
with my game. He was a master offensive tactician, and he shared with
me his 26 offensive moves. And I taught those same 26 offensive moves
to my players and campers over the next three decades.
It was in my junior year, 1972-73, that we stopped being surprised
with each victory and that basketball at Immaculata took on a more
serious approach. Cathy had an absolute fit that we were playing football
instead of doing stations and working on our games. We knew that once
we took the floor, we were going to give her everything we had. We were
going to play full out. But I don’t know if Cathy understood this, and I
don’t know if she trusted us to do it.
Cathy also felt she had to upgrade our talents in order for us to compete
at the highest level. To that end, she recruited Marianne Crawford, a fiery
point guard from Archbishop Prendergast in the Catholic League who was
considered the best high school basketball prospect in the area. Marianne
originally wanted togo toWest Chester tomajor inphysical education. If she
had done this and had teamed up with Carol Larkin in the backcourt there,
the history of women’s basketball might have been dramatically altered. But
Cathy convinced her to commute to Immaculata.
Marianne instantly made us a much better team. Her game had a
joy about it that reflected her free spirit. She was a great ball handler, a
tenacious defender, and a catalyst for a lethal 1-3-1 defense which Cathy
had initiated that fall. We pressed all the time that season, andMarianne
made us go. We were fun to watch, since the women’s game was played
with a 30-second clock, which, at times, made our games more exciting
than the men’s games because they eliminated stalling at the end.
The home games at Alumnae Hall were packed. To make sure there
was enough seating, the girls on the team had to do some maintenance
work. Prior to every game, we would set up 500-600 folding chairs
around the court to accommodate the ever-growing crowd of spectators.
Rene Muth’s father, Lou, who owned a hardware store in Upper
Darby, made sure there was plenty of noise. At first, we didn’t have an
organized pep band, so one night he showed up with six aluminum
buckets. His family carted them in on a dolly before each game, then
handed themout. Before long, our parents, the Sisters, and our fans were
banging on these buckets. The opposing teams and their fans needed
earplugs. Many of our weekend games were played in the afternoons.
I’ve been lucky. In both high school and college, I’ve been on teams that
played before a full house. My teammates’ parents were most supportive.
They sat together at home games and went out to eat together afterwards.
We had no cheerleaders, so one of the Sisters coaxed a student to
“fill in.” She began with great enthusiasm: “Give me an I….Give me an
M….Give me an A…” There was a gasp from the crowd.
Fellow students tried to rescue the embarrassed student by helping
her change the spelling, but it was too late. The college president had
heard enough!
We had an eight-girl pep band my junior and senior years, and they
played “When the Macs Come Marching In” as we came out for our pre-
game warm-ups. I think it was the only song they knew, and I’m sure it
made the Immaculata Hit Parade at every game.
In October of 1972, just before practice started, Cathy had given
birth to her first son, Eddie. She brought him to practice, set him up in
a portable crib, and had the team managers handle the baby-sitting. We
took him out of his playpen, put him in the ball rack and ran all over
the place. It probably wasn’t the safest thing to do, but he loved it and
we had a good time with him, too. That was really neat for us, for we
had an opportunity to witness firsthand a woman who had a family but
wasn’t going to let that full-time job affect her career. Occasionally, he
even made an appearance on the bench with Cathy holding him in her
arms as she fed him his bottle.
Our big game during the regular 1972-73 season came as no surprise.
It was against West Chester. It was almost a year since they had lost to
us in the National Championship game, and they were still in a state of
disbelief. We could tell they were itching for a re-match.
They still had the same coach, Kitty Caldwell, and a lot of good
players from that team—Jane Fontaine, Carol Larkin, Linda Eisenhauer,
Kathy Valutus, and Cassandre Taylor—and were still getting all the kids
who were interested in studying phys. ed. They boasted that same large
Winning that first national championship was one thing. Defending it was another.
It didn’t take long for people to suggest that our victory was a f luke. That bothered
me no end. That’s why, in our second year, we made a point of proving we were for real.
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