My son John (#7) turned eight yesterday, and we celebrated with dinner at CiCi’s Pizza (early carbo-loading for my marathon:)) and a movie (refrained from popcorn, however), “The Mighty Macs”. When we got to the movie the kids were all excited because we were the only ones there, although I saw the empty theater as both good and bad. It was good because we made the mistake of bringing our 2 and a 1/2 year old, who sat through the previews and then thought it was over and wanted to run around. We did our best to keep him occupied, but I was glad no one else was in the theater when he started playing cars on the seats and honking loudly. The bad part was that no one else was there to see this great film. Although it may seem like I drift a little off the subject of exercise, I believe this film exemplifies the values of what many parents and coaches want their kids to aim for, and frankly, what I would like to promote with 9 Kid Fitness, as well.
This is a movie about overcoming odds, dashing stereotypes, and remaining faithful and courageous when others aren’t. It resonated with me in many ways, even as I think of my own fitness and the many obstacles that get in my way as a mom of nine trying to juggle a lot while still remaining healthy and sane. But mostly I was touched by the tenacity of coach Cathy Rush, who really made the girls believe in something greater than themselves. Although most of us have seen this kind of movie before in the likes of “Hoosiers” and “Rudy”, it is not a theme we should grow tired of. As a parent, I love a movie that delivers a positive message, especially one that is true.
The “Mighty Macs” is based on the incredible true story of the 1971-72 Immaculata College team that started in obscurity but became the original Cinderella story in women’s basketball. This team of pioneers went from barely making that inaugural tournament to the first dynasty in their game. And coach Rush, the woman who was ahead of her time, became immortalized when she was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
After seeing the movie, I Googled it to find out more about the story, and saw old newspaper clippings about the Immaculata team’s wins that first year. Sure enough, nuns in habits lined the bleachers to cheer for their underdog team. I also found out that the writer and director, Tim Chambers was asked to make it more like “Sister Act” (in other words add profanity and the like and promote it to PG-13) and less like a female “Hoosiers”. He wouldn’t comply and it took almost three years from the time it was made to get it out to theaters.
“There are heavy Catholic overtones in the story, which is not surprising given the subject and the fact that Tim and I are both products of Catholic schools,” said Pat Croce, former president of the Philadelphia 76’ers and executive director of the film . “Our upbringing played an integral part of our lives in a positive way. It was the same thing with these girls.” Chambers had grown up in the area and, as a child, saw Rush and the Mighty Macs practice at his Catholic grade school’s gym. And he was taught by the same nuns who run Immaculata — the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
While he didn’t take on the project to promote the Catholic Church, Chambers said that “if the byproduct of telling the story is showing the church in a positive light, than so be it. There is certainly a faith-based element to it but there are also universal themes that are still relevant today.” The current athletic director and coach of the Mighty Macs, Patricia Canterino said the nuns at Immaculata are still huge fans. “We still have such great support of the women’s basketball program from the sisters…They come to the game and sit in that same section right by the door as you come in.” In my opinion, it’s great to see nuns portrayed in a positive, realistic light, something not often seen.
I really hope that the empty theater last night was due more to the fact it was Sunday night and less a reflection of what kind of movies “sell” these days. If it is more the latter, then it’s a sad reflection indeed.
Has anyone else seen Mighty Macs?