This year marks the 50th anniversary of Immaculata College in Chester County winning the National Women’s College Basketball Championship. The NCAA did not have a women’s championship playoff at the time, and the championship was governed by the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. The NCAA created the women’s championship in 1982.
At the time, Immaculata (now Immaculata University) was a Catholic women’s college with an enrollment of approximately 1,000 students. Immaculata had a ragtag women’s basketball team that wasn’t very competitive. That was until the college hired Cathy Rush to coach young women.
Cathy Rush saw a diamond in the rough with the women on the team and took them all the way to winning national championships in 1972, 1973 and 1974.
What these students did must be considered one of the greatest achievements in the history of college sports.
I didn’t know anything about this story until I met Bill Hayek.
I play pickleball at the Universal Fitness Center in Lancaster, and one day Bill came to play. We were talking about sports, and he told me that his daughter played basketball for Lancaster Catholic High School, where she graduated in 2002, then went to the University of Miami, where she also played basketball . He then went on to tell me another interesting thing about his daughter.
Katie Hayek played basketball, but she also majored in acting, and when she graduated from Miami, she wanted to pursue a career in acting.
Sony Pictures was planning to make a film about the incredible story of Immaculata, and Katie decided to audition. Katie passed the first audition and was invited to travel to New York for the final audition.
Just before Katie traveled to New York, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Katie had to undergo chemotherapy treatment as soon as possible, but after consulting with her doctors and parents, it was decided that she could postpone treatment until she had her hearing.
Katie made the cut and was given a major role in ‘The Mighty Macs’ movie. During filming, Katie was also undergoing her chemotherapy treatment and had to wear a wig for many scenes.
The film is one of the most inspiring movies you will ever see. The women on Team Immaculata are incredible, and many of them have had very successful careers.
But even more amazing is the story of Katie Hayek. Her cancer is now in full remission and, after a short but successful film career, she is now married and happily the mother of a 2-year-old child.
I highly recommend “The Mighty Macs” movie. It is available to stream on Pluto. It will give you a warm feeling inside, and now that you know the story of Katie Hayek, you will appreciate it even more.
The author lives in Lancaster. Katie Hayek’s acting career also includes an appearance in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and in a short film, “Pretty Penny”, which screened at the Lancaster Area Film Festival in 2012. “The Mighty Macs” is also available on Amazon Prime Video.