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Date: Jul 23, 2007
Hofstra Professor Serving as Consultant for Movie Inspired by Her Book
"Our Lady of Victory" is the story of the Immaculata College Mighty Macs championship women's basketball team
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY – “Our Lady of Victory” is the story of the Immaculata College Mighty Macs championship women’s basketball team
“Our Lady of Victory,” headed by producer and director Tim Chambers, wrapped up shooting in early July in West Chester, Pennsylvania, not far from Immaculata University, the tiny Catholic school whose women’s basketball teams secured a place in college basketball history. The movie came about after Dr. Byrne, the Msgr. Thomas J. Hartman Chair for Catholic Studies at Hofstra, received a call from Mr. Chambers, himself a product of Philadelphia Catholic schools. Mr. Chambers was familiar with the Mighty Macs story and, after reading Dr. Byrne’s book, "O God of Players: The Story of the Immaculata Mighty Macs” (Columbia University Press, 2003), called her about three years ago to ask for the movie rights. Dr. Byrne has since served as a consultant on the project.
The inspirational tale has been described by the media as a female Hoosiers, Sister Act and A League of Their Own rolled into one, yet Dr. Byrne said Mr. Chambers rejected a proposed treatment of the script by Disney that would have oversimplified the story and instead raised his own funds for the project.
Although Dr. Byrne’s book told the history of the school from the 1930s through the 1970s basketball championship runs, the movie concentrates on the last chapter beginning in 1972. That’s the year the school, then called Immaculata College and an all-women’s institution, overcame great odds to win its first national title., including not having a home court (their field house had burned down) or the money to send the team to a national tournament where it was seeded 15th in a 16-team field, and being coached by Protestant, 23-year-old Cathy Rush, who was barely older than her players.
“Probably the script emphasizes the difference between the Cathy Rush proto-feminist mentality and the 1970s girls Catholic school mentality,” said Dr. Byrne, who noted that Ms. Rush (played by Carla Gugino of HBO’s Entourage and Night at the Museum) “came into the world of Immaculata and had much different ideas about what it meant to be a young woman in the 1970s. The movie is about the differences and also about finding common ground between the two worlds.”
The Immaculata story also is one of a seeming incongruity between a Philadelphia Catholic culture that was very conservative on gender issues but that nonetheless gave tremendous support to women’s basketball. “In the midst of that conservative culture there was this forward thinking dimension of the culture regarding women’s basketball, and nobody questioned it,” said Dr. Byrne.
A release date for “Our Lady of Victory” has not yet been announced.
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