by John Schmalzbauer
It is a privilege to hear an author revisit a good book. Such was the case on Thursday February 16, 2012 when historian Julie Byrne described what she might have done differently in O God of Players: The Story of the Immaculata Mighty Macs. Published in 2003, it chronicles the triumph of the first women’s basketball team to win a national collegiate championship, the Immaculata College Mighty Macs. Ten years later, Byrne discussed the challenges of “borrowed memories” (a problem for oral historians) and the ramifications of the church sex abuse crisis for American Catholic history. Profiled in a February 11, 2012 News-Leader story, Byrne spoke to a packed auditorium in Meyer Library.
The audience was especially eager to hear former Lady Bears Coach Cheryl Burnett talk about Byrne’s book. She did not disappoint. Sharing stories about the coaches and athletes featured in O God of Players, Burnett offered an insider’s perspective on the saga of women’s basketball. She expressed her appreciation for the vitality of Catholic women’s basketball in Philadelphia. Also present for the lecture was Burnett’s predecessor Reba Sims, the very first coach of the Lady Bears.
Byrne expressed appreciation for the interest in women’s basketball. As she later wrote on her Twitter feed, “I had not known what another precocious hotspot of girls’ hoops SW MO was and is!”
The lecture was sponsored by the College of Humanities and Public Affairs and the Department of Religious Studies.