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O God of Players: The Story of the Immaculata Mighty Macs

Julie Byrne

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Paper, 312 pages, 21 photos
ISBN: 978-0-231-12749-3
$29.00 / £20.00

October, 2003
Cloth, 312 pages, 21 photos
ISBN: 978-0-231-12748-6
$90.00 / £62.00

"Entertaining and eyeopening. . .Students in women's studies, religion, and sociology would benefit from this well-documented book." — Library Journal

"The sports-religion connection is examined in fascinating depth, as Byrne probes the traditional Catholic position on sports, effectively building the case that basketball allowed young women the opportunity to be expressive without sacrificing their Catholic beliefs . . . In an era when athletes' values are routinely under attack, this is perhaps the most unusual sports book of the season." — Mary Frances Wilkens, Booklist

"A vivid portrait of how faith can develop strong athletes, and how sports can help grow faith." — Nancy Kruh, Dallas Morning News

"Terrific . . . [Byrne's] nostalgic about the days when a little-engine-that-thinks-it-can could actually win a national championship, and clear-eyed enough to understand that the implementation of Title IX has erased the possibiity that it could happen again . . . [T]he story of the team that won three titles on a shoestring and a prayer makes a good book." — NPR, Only a Game

"O God offers a vivid portrait of how faith can develop strong athletes, and how sports can help grow faith." — Nancy Kruh, Knight Ridder Tribune

"The Immaculata story has long needed a comprehensive telling, and Julie Byrne does an excellent job inO God of Players. . . .[It] is a necessary addition to basketball literature." — Philadelphia City Paper

"The reader will discover how these pioneers opened the door for young girls across the US, encouraging them to enjoy sports, especially basketball, and have fun idolizing their role models, who did their part to liberate national attitudes about women's athletics. This is a great book. Essential." — Choice

"Byrne's engaging social history of the Macs examines everything from the development of Philly's fearsome hoops culture to racial and religious bigotry to the challenge of coaching young ladies whose role model was the Virgin Mother." — Philadelphia Magazine

"With Byrne acting as translator, their stories are compelling indeed...Her readable style was one of the reasons why I assigned it." — Kathleen Sprows Cummings, American Catholic Studies Newsletter

"O God of Players details this basketball world, offering a window into an unexplored corner of American women's sports and American Catholicism." — Pamela Grundy, The Journal of American History

"This book is an important contribution to the history of American religion and American sport, this represents a signal achievement... If god moves in mysterious ways, we clearly need more local studies like this to understand how people live out those mysteries in everyday life." — Richard Ian Kimball, American Historical Review

"This ingenious study should find a place in both survey and seminar courses." — Religious Studies Review

"Nuns playing basketball in the novice house? Catholic girls having fun in the 1950s? Julie Byrne's delightful book complements studies of a 'culture of suffering' among American Catholic women to show that lived religion also includes pleasure, and lots of it. Her ingenious choice of the Mighty Macs, unlikely national basketball champions, suggests a world of new venues by which to access the religious life of Catholic laity." — Ann D. Braude, director of the Women's Studies in Religion Program, Harvard University

"In this important study of young Catholic women playing their way into American life, Julie Byrne broadens our understanding of the history of religion and sports in the United States. Making it clear that Catholic school life was anything but dour and joyless or that discipline means only restriction and limitation, Byrne's exciting story captures the delight and achievements of young Catholic female athletes." — Robert Orsi, Warren Professor of American Religious History, Harvard University

"O God of Players recaptures the lost world of Catholic women's basketball between 1940 and 1975 where faith, sweat, and even innocence triumphed as America and Catholicism changed uneasily and irrevocably. Julie Byrne describes how a group of remarkable young women transformed their spiritual and secular lives alike through a love of basketball and church. O God of Players is charming, surprising, insightful, and often moving—wonderfully original and wholly successful." — Jon Butler, William Robertson Coe Professor of American Studies and History and professor of religious studies, Yale University

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About the Author

Julie Byrne is an assistant professor of religion at Duke University. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.

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