This is the remarkable story of the first stars of women's basketball. In the early 1970s, few women participated in organized athletics, but in Catholic Philadelphia, women's basketball was already a well-established, thirty-year tradition. In this vivid account of Immaculata basketball, Julie Byrne explores the unusual lives of these young women, the rare opportunities and pleasures they were allowed, their religious culture, and the broader ideas of womanhood that they inspired and helped redefine.
Imagine a tiny college with 800 students winning the national championship in women's basketball. Immaculata College (IC), near Philadelphia, did that in 1972-and for the following two years as well, despite a miniscule budget and no athletic scholarships. How this was accomplished and what it meant to the players, fans, nuns, and the Catholic community in Philadelphia are the subject of this book. Perhaps it is surprising that Catholic girls played basketball so passionately and skillfully, but for many reasons sports were always big among Catholics in Philadelphia, and the church's extensive school system fed Catholic colleges like IC. The author (religion, Texas Christian Univ.) used interviews with former players to illustrate how sports and conservative Catholic womanhood were not at odds. This book occasionally uses overly academic language, but mostly it is entertaining and eyeopening, as when the author describes the four layers of uniform worn (including baggy cotton stockings with garter belts!) right up to the mid-Sixties. Students in women's studies, religion, and sociology would benefit from this well-documented book. Recommended for all academic libraries and larger sports collections.-Kathy Ruffle, Coll. of New Caledonia Lib., Prince George, BC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.