WILMINGTON – Meghan Sabia’s life has been a whirlwind recently as the Oct. 21 release of “The Mighty Macs” drew near, but the Philadelphia actress – who portrays a member of the Immaculata College national championship team in the film – took some time Wednesday morning to speak to students at Padua Academy in Wilmington.
Sabia said she welcomes the opportunity to speak at schools about the film and her experiences, and the environment at Padua suited her just fine.
“I felt like I was at home,” she said after a question-and-answer session with a group of students. “I come from an all-girls’ school, I’ve been around that environment for quite some time, so it felt very nice and comforting.”
“The Mighty Macs” tells the story of the 1970s’ basketball team at Immaculata College (now a co-ed University), the tiny all-women’s school in Chester County, Pa., and its improbable run to the top of the women’s college basketball hierarchy.
Under Coach Cathy Rush – played in the movie by Carla Gugino – the Mighty Macs won the first three Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) national championships.
Those Immaculata teams featured several players who would go on to prominent careers in coaching and other professions. Sabia plays Jen Galantino, whose character is based on Judy Marra, now Judy Martelli, the wife of St. Joseph’s University men’s basketball coach Phil Martelli. (The real players’ names were changed in the film.) Her number in the movie is 15.
Sabia, who grew up playing basketball and field hockey and who attended Mount St. Joseph Academy in Floutown, Pa., said she was inspired by the attitude of the players, who faced incredible odds on the court and off.
“They were complete underdogs,” but they had drive and persistence. “They raised money by selling toothbrushes to get to the championship game.”
Without giving away too much of the movie, Sabia told the students her favorite scene was at the Immaculata rotunda, where the entire student body gathered to cheer on the team. It can be seen at the end of the trailer on the website, www.themightymacs.com.
“I still get goose bumps every time I see it,” she said.
Sabia is featured in a scene available at the website; it can be seen here.
Sabia was playing AAU basketball when the film was looking for players several years ago. She said her mom encouraged her to try out. Sabia had taken acting classes and had done some community theater, so she gave it a shot.
But, she told the Padua students, she is glad she went to St. Joe’s and earned her degree in marketing. She currently has a full-time job, although if the acting “takes off, I’m going with it.”
When asked what advice she would give to aspiring actresses, Sabia told them to not compromise their values for a role. Also, don’t give up, as there is a lot of rejection in the industry.
The story of the film in a way mirrors the team it chronicles. Shooting for “The Mighty Macs ended three years ago, but its release was held up as writer-director Tim Chambers sought a distributor. Its premiere was last week at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, with Gugino and co-stars David Boreanaz, Ellen Burstyn and Marley Shelton in attendance, along with the rest of the cast and the real Mighty Macs.
“They did an awesome job. The mayor was there, Mayor Nutter. The archbishop was there,” she said.
“I cried at the end, and I have not cried when I’ve watched it. But I can’t believe it’s real and it’s happening. It was so, so awesome. Plus, a lot of my family was there. There was a red carpet, press all over the red carpet, taking pictures. It was very, very cool.”
While Sabia was waiting for the movie to find a distributor, it didn’t have much of an effect on her life. But now, with its release, she is promoting the film and the never-give-up message it imparts.
“The thought was always in the back of your mind, ‘Well, there’s still this movie, something great will come from this.’ I think we all felt that during filming,” she said. “We knew this could be a great movie, one that you remember.”
The Mighty Macs is rated G. For a list of theaters and more information about the film, go to www.themightymacs.com.