Immaculata University Magazine - Spring 2011 - page 43

In my senior year, our team was no longer a secret. People knew about us. Not only
were they waiting for us, they were gunning for us. They definitely wanted a piece of us.
hey were getting tired of us. At that time, we were the
two-time defending champions. We were the subject of
national magazine articles. Our games were broadcast on
radio, and we were on local TV. That was a big deal for us. A camera crew
would come out to campus to do a 30-second clip, and we’d all gather
around the TV after practice to see if we were on.
We were being referred to as the “UCLA of the East.” During the
’74 regular season, over 4,000 fans showed up to watch us defeat West
Chester at Cardinal O’Hara High School, at the height of the gas crisis.
Some of our home games were moved to the Villanova Field House to
accommodate the growing number of people who wanted to see us play.
Catholic grade schools would charter buses to transport students who
wanted to watch our games. IHM Sisters from South Jersey and Central
Pennsylvania came to swell the ranks of our “blue cheerleaders.”
We were 54-1 and working on a 35-game winning streak when we
traveled to Queens College on Ash Wednesday, February 27, 1974 for
a rematch of the 1973 championship game. The place was packed, and
hundreds of our fans had made the trip with us, proudly wearing our
ashes. The final score was a tragic one, 57-56. And this unexpected loss
served as a gentle Lenten reminder that life’s certainties are, at best,
uncertain. Nobody saw it coming. But I should have. Just before the
game, Marianne said tome, “Theresa, I have bad news. I can see my little
sneakers sitting in the car, patiently waiting for me to pick them up. I
didn’t pick them up.” We needed one of the other kids to give her a pair
of shoes. This was one story where the glass slipper didn’t fit.
We rode back to campus in almost complete silence. Our fans would
be crushed. But when we arrived, Sister Marie Roseanne Bonfini, dean
of academic affairs at that time and who would later go on to become
president of the school, had arranged for a reception in the Rotunda.
She felt it was important that the girls on the team knew that everybody
cared for us and it was okay that we had lost.
We walked in, and everyone was cheering. Denise convinced me to
say a few words. I was reluctant. “Denise,” I said to my co-captain, “I
thought the deal was that you were supposed to take care of things off the
floor, and I was supposed to take care of things on the floor.” “Well,” she
said, “you didn’t take care of things on the floor today.” Thanks, Denise.
So I took the microphone and thanked everyone for coming out to
support us. Then I said, “I promise you that in three weeks, we will bring
home to you another national championship.” Then I put down the
microphone and went home. Denise groaned, saying, “Why do we ever
let her talk?” But we did live up to our promise.
But that ’74 season was a difficult one for me personally. It took
us a while to establish the chemistry. Maureen Mooney and Maureen
Stuhlman were gone, and we had a lot of high-profile faces. Cathy
had gone out of the area to recruit Mary Scharff from Paul VI High
in South Jersey and Tina Krah from Allentown Central Catholic, and
brought in three other freshmen – Marie Liguori, Barb Deuble, and
Patricia Mulhern. Both Tina andMary became starters along with Rene,
Marianne, and me. Denise became our sixth man and would come in as
a big-time shooter when teams went zone.
We always had to find a way to get to practice on the weekends
because campus was an hour away. In today’s world, kids go to practice
an hour before because they do rehab, get treatment. Then they have
shoot around.
We didn’t have all that. We rotated driving. Whoever had a car
made the loop, picked us up at our houses, and we made the trip to
school together.
We were college students. Time management was not something we
were good at. We cut it as close as possible.
Inevitably, we were late a couple of times, and this really frosted
Cathy because she was a stickler for promptness.
One morning, while we were commuting on the back roads of Route
252, we came across the Radnor Hunt Club, doing its thing. First we saw
the fox. Then we saw the horses carrying the Hunt members wearing
their black hats and red jackets – which was all very picturesque and
Chester County.
Unfortunately for us, it was all very time-consuming.
We knewwe weren’t going anywhere any time soon. And we knewwe
were in big trouble – probably even more than the fox.
When we finally got to campus, we sent Rene in to test the waters. We
figured Cathy liked her. No good. Cathy was just livid. When Rene tried
to pick up Eddie in his playpen, Cathy screamed at her, “Put him down.”
She did.
The rest of us trooped in and she told us to run three miles.
We did.
We had tried to tell her we were caught up in a fox hunt. But she
no more believed that than she believed in the man in the moon.
Afterwards, we weremad that she didn’t believe us. And we were a couple
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