Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

Every year, Springfield, Massachusetts becomes the center of the world for one weekend. It is where the best players, coaches, and innovators gather to honor and celebrate one another’s achievements. They can be sworn enemies on the court but stand united on the stage. Every sport has their hall of fame. The Basketball Hall of Fame is stationed in this New England town.

While the likes of Adrian Dantley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, William Davidson, Dick Vitale, and Pat Riley may have been the most well-known inductees to the average viewer there was one that took on a little more meaning around here. Look a little deeper and you will find another member of this hall of fame class that graduated from our fine institute. Cathy Rush, a 1968 graduate of West Chester University, was a pioneer in not only women’s collegiate basketball but in women’s athletics across the globe.

Rush did not have the longevity of most coaches that reached the hall but it was more than just her incredible 149-15 record and three national championships at Immaculata University that gave her this honor. She was as influential a person in developing women’s basketball as anyone. She set up camps that according to West Chester women’s basketball head coach Deirdre Kane, was the big recruiting tool.

“Back when women’s basketball was in its infancy when I first was coaching college, as far as the modern game goes, everybody who was anybody went to Cathy Rush’s camps,” said Kane. “That was the big recruiting camp. We all went there to look at kids. She even had camps for coaches to learn how to coach.”

Kane acknowledges the impact that Rush had on her as a person as the Lady Ram’s head honcho was at the hall of fame to see her friend and colleague, Rush, get her well deserved spot among the basketball immortals.

With a career record of 333-245, Kane credits the “Cathy Rush Camps” for helping her learn how to coach and how to recruit, but it was not so much the innovator that is Rush that Kane most admires. It is the person whom now sits among the hard court’s legends.

“I used to go to her camps, not as a player, because I was coaching by then but it was just a great opportunity to network and learn to be a coach,” Kane said. “She would sit down and talk with everybody. She’s real down to earth even though she’s famous.”

Despite an obvious reason that coach Kane went to the hall of fame, she still had a great time meeting some of the game’s all-time greats. Coaching a team that has an average height of below six-foot, Kane was in the company of not only some giant celebrities but some giant men as well. Two seven-footers, Olajuwon and Ewing, and a six-foot-five Dantley were the three players that saw their career accomplishments become immortalized.

Besides seeing Rush, Kane was extremely excited to see another hall of famer: Dick Vitale.

“Other than Cathy, because that was very moving for me and I was sitting with all the Immaculata [and] West Chester people, Dick Vitale was really good,” said Kane. “He talked a long time but you didn’t even realize it because he is so vivacious and so passionate.”

Of all the Basketball Hall of Fame inductees, the one that was closest to the hearts of the West Chester community was clearly Cathy Rush. She had such a profound impact on women’s athletics and it makes it that much more exciting for our campus knowing she graduated from here.

Rush has become a staple and a poster girl for women’s basketball, particularly the historical aspect of it. She has impacted West Chester’s very own women’s head basketball coach Deirdre Kane. That is two phenomenal generations of basketball minds. With Rush in the hall, Kane now passes on the hall of famer’s words of wisdom to her own players.

In her career, Kane has coached Lady Rams, such as now assistant coach Kiera Wooden, 2006-2007 captain Dominique Lewis, 2007-2008 captain Catherine Andrews, and 2008-2009 co-captains Natalie Winters and Janelle Garber. The lessons have been handed down from Rush to the Lady Rams.

Kane said she was glad she got to see the legendary pioneer get her due honor.

“I was excited to be there for her and let her know that West Chester still claims her as their own,” Kane said.

Mike Heiman is a fourth-year student majoring in elementary education with a minor in literacy. He can be reached at MH606613@wcupa.edu.

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