'Mighty Macs' movie follows  same underdog path as team

In ‘The Mighty Macs,’ Carla Gugino, right, stars as Cathy Rush, an Egg Harbor Township native and Oakcrest High School graduate who coached Immaculata College to a women’s basketball U.S. collegiate championship.

Cathy Rush invited friends to her home in Ventnor a couple of years ago to watch an advance copy of the movie "The Mighty Macs."

This was not a typical girl's night in with popcorn and sodas.

This was a movie about her.

Latest Video

Rush, a native of West Atlantic City in Egg Harbor Township, saw the filming of this movie. She watched actress Carla Gugino play Cathy Rush, the basketball coach.

But it wasn't until Rush was cozy on her couch with the bay waters sitting still around her house that it hit her - a movie about her had been made.

The movie opened with Mother Superior saying, "Catherine Rush."

"My stomach dropped," said Rush, a 1964 Oakcrest High School graduate. "It was the most disconcerting thing because it was real.

"Then I had to watch two to three more times and pay attention to what was going on."

"The Mighty Macs" was made in 2008 as an independent film starring Gugino and David Boreanaz. It was recently picked up for widespread release, starting today. Locally, the movie is listed only at Regal Hamilton Commons Stadium in Mays Landing.

In 2008, Rush, 64, was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. But the movie is about how Rush's success as a mentor and leader started in basketball in the early 1970s.

She won three consecutive Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women national titles from 1972-1974 as coach at Immaculata College, a small, all-female school in Immaculata, Pa.

The G-rated movie is about that first year.

"For years, I have said this story needed to be told," Rush said. "I believe it should be a movie. It's good enough to be a movie."

The story is simple but has a resounding message. At Immaculata, the women's team didn't have uniforms. It had no home court because the fieldhouse had burned down.

But even though they had to play every game on the road, the Mighty Macs earned the 15th seed in the national tournament.

Rush, who was 23 at the time, led Immaculata through three upsets to reach the final. There, the Mighty Macs defeated rival West Chester University for their first national title.

Rush used that fame to launch the Future Stars Camp, which has been around the Philadelphia area for more than 35 years.

But even being in the Hall of Fame and having a movie made about her hasn't changed the way her family looks at her.

Her nephew, Brian Booth, who is the swim coach at Mainland Regional High School, just sees Aunt Cathy.

"She's just a regular person," said Booth, a Linwood resident. "She's a humble, regular person. It's nice to see what it's done for her, but she's never been one to sit there and speak on past accomplishments."

Booth saw the movie several years ago when it was made, but he said he probably will take his children to see it sometime this weekend.

His parents, Ron and Alice Booth - Rush's sister - went to the premiere last Friday in Philadelphia. The entire cast was there, including Rush, who has been on a media tour all week.

She was in New York City on Thursday and planned to fly to Miami today, and then back to New York on Saturday.

But she doesn't mind the travel so much. Rush feels this is an important movie for people to watch.

"It's uplifting, funny and there is a message there, too," she said. "Good things can happen to everybody. Everyone can dream big. That's really what this story is all about."

Contact Susan Lulgjuraj:


Recommended for you

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.