The Mighty Macs (Rated G)
Starring Carla Gugino, David Boreanaz, Marley Shelton, Ellen Burstyn
Directed by Tim Chambers
Plot: In the early 1970s, coach Cathy Rush leads a tiny all girls’ college to the first national championship.
Not being a sports guy, I have never heard of Cathy Rush until researching this movie. Rush went into a tiny Catholic all-girls school, called Immaculata College. She had no coaching experience and she was defying many of the cultural norms of the time.
Cathy Rush (Carla Gugino) was married. The societal expectation was that she would be a wife and mother. This was her husband’s expectation, too; she was married to Ed Rush (David Boreanaz), an NBA referee who wanted her to be home. Cathy ran into similar conflicts at the college, which was struggling financially. The head of the college, Mother St. John, basically told her that she didn’t care if they win, she just wanted their hormones kept in check. Several of the girls aren’t sure how much they care about basketball; their goal was to obtain a husband.
Cathy had more in mind, though. Early on, she hands out pins, stating, “We will be #1”, despite all indications otherwise. Cathy worked on building a team over individual skills, and after some false starts, it started to pay off. Tiny Immaculata College went on to win, not just the first championship, but the first three National Championships. Rush went on to coach the gold-medal-winning women’s team at the 1975 Pan American Games. Rush was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.
This is a very sweet movie suitable for families; it has a very positive message for young women. However, this Disneyfied version of the tale has to skip over some darker elements. Ed and Cathy’s relationship struggles, then Ed turns around and becomes supportive. We don’t get to see that change happen. I’m sure as a women bucking what society expected of her, Cathy Rush had to have faced far stronger challenges than we see in the film.
In the end, this is a film worth seeing…when it comes out on DVD. It’s definitely worth checking out and sharing with your family, but it feels like a TV movie – not worth the excessive ticket prices at your local cineplex.
If you live in the Ames area, The Mighty Macs didn’t open up on enough screens to be playing here. If you would like to watch the movie, it is playing in the Des Moines area. Fandango.com has a list of theaters and showtimes.