Born: April 7, 1947
Town: Egg Harbor
Cathy Cohen was born April 7, 1947 in Atlantic City and grew up in nearby Egg Harbor. Smart, quick and athletic, Cathy excelled on the basketball court. In junior high she played the now-defunct six-on-six girls game, where players were confined to defined areas of the court. She averaged 30 points a game.
At Oakcrest High School, Cathy won the Atlantic County scoring title as a 5’6” freshman forward. However, in 1961 Oakcrest dropped its interscholastic sports program for girls, so Cathy was a young woman without a team. Instead, she took up gymnastics and played hoops outside of school.
Cathy enrolled at West Chester College in 1964. She majored in physical education and played basketball for two seasons before switching back to gymnastics. While at West Chester, she learned to coach a wide variety of team sports. Shortly after graduation, Cathy married Ed Rush, an NBA official.
In 1970, Cathy was hired to coach basketball at Immaculata College outside of Philadelphia. The school only had 40 students and its gym had burned down, so the team would play on the road during the 1970–71 season. The Macs went 10–2. The following season, with a brand new gym, Cathy’s team went undefeated in the regular season behind the play of sophomore center Theresa Shank. Immaculata made the 16-team AIAW Tournament as the 15th seed. They went on to beat Cathy’s old West Chester team in the finals to become the champions of women’s basketball. From that day on, the team was known as the Mighty Macs.
Cathy’s team defended its title in 1973 and 1974. The 1973 team was the first women’s team to go 20–0. She coached Immaculata through 1977, reaching the championship final in 1975 and 1976. In 1975, Cathy also coached Team USA to a gold medal in the Pan Am Games. Her record at Immaculata was 149–15.
With the advent of Title IX and basketball scholarships (and aggressive recruiting) for women, Cathy decided it was time to retire. She raised her two kids and ran a basketball camp with Ed, which became known as Future Stars Camp. One of her counselors was Geno Auriemma. She also provided color commentary for most of the major networks as women’s basketball became more popular. Coincidentally, Cathy was the coach when Immaculata faced Maryland in 1975 in the first nationally televised NCAA women’s basketball game.
After beating breast cancer in 1990, she became a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society. She and Ed later divorced. In 2000, Cathy was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2008, she entered the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. In 2011, the movie The Mighty Macs chronicled Immaculata’s 1972 championship