The St. Anthony Messenger November 2011 issue has a feature about the story that inspired the film. Check it out!
THE MIGHTY MACS (not yet rated): It is the early 1970s, at the dawn of the women’s movement and just before Title IX programs for athletics were extended to women. The president and mother superior (Ellen Burstyn, W.) of the small Catholic all-girls Immaculata College, northwest of Philadelphia, hires a new basketball coach, Cathy Rush (Carla Gugino, Race to Witch Mountain).
Rush, who is non-Catholic and newly married to Ed (David Boreanaz, Bones), discovers that the team has no uniforms or a gym to practice in and that the school itself may soon be sold. But she takes on these challenges with sheer determination. Ed thinks that she is just trying to find a way to spend her time, but becomes confused by her dedication and their marriage suffers.
Sister Sunday (Marley Shelton, W.) is questioning her vocation and wants to request a leave of absence from the community. But Rush notices her interest in basketball and invites her to be the assistant coach. They become friends, and the young nun grows in her understanding of her own calling.
With the energy and talent of the team, coaches and nuns, the Mighty Macs power their way to the first AIAW (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) national championship in 1972. They would subsequently win in 1973 and 1974, as well.
The Mighty Macs is based on a true story, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters were consulted on the film. The story was developed for the screen by first-time writer/director Tim Chambers and producer Pat Croce.
Themes of hard work, faith, character and heart permeate the film. Coach Cathy tells the girls before a game: “’Do you know that in a race all the runners compete? But only one receives the prize. So run, that you may obtain it’—Corinthians. You’ve earned the right to run the race tonight and it’s O.K. to want the prize. Do you know why teams get to championships?”
A player answers, “Trust.”
Rush continues, “That’s why they get to the championships. But do you know why they win championships? I want all of you to point to yourselves. That’s right. Look where you are all pointing [to their hearts]. This is why championships are won. One team, one beat, one heart.”
Though the film gives off a low-budget vibe, the feel is authentic and consistent with the story. The acting is frank, open and moving. Cathy Rush, a breast-cancer survivor, was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008 with Pat Riley and Dick Vitale, and the little college is now Immaculata University.Mature themes.