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Bookstore Basketball: Playing for P-Mac

Matt Gamber | Thursday, April 24, 2008

For years, she was often Team Anthony Travel’s only fan, watching from the sideline as the team won three straight Women’s Bookstore Basketball titles before falling in the finals last year.

But at Monday night’s championship game, Patricia McAdams was the center of attention.

“She was one of the first ones there, and right from the time she got there, the usher knew her and went right up to her,” said Sara Liebscher, Notre Dame’s director of athletics advancement and a member of Anthony Travel. “The greetings started right then and went all the way through the game with people coming up to her. It was just nice to see how far she’s come … she’s doing great, and she’s the same old P-Mac.”

McAdams, a longtime university computer support technician and women’s basketball enthusiast, was severely injured in a car accident near Fort Wayne, Ind., on Jan. 13. McAdams was returning home from a women’s basketball game at West Virginia when she pulled over and exited her vehicle to help another along Interstate 69’s guardrail. When a passing vehicle lost control and struck McAdams’ car, she was thrown over the guardrail and onto the embankment below.

McAdams sustained severe injuries to both her legs, which were later amputated. She expects to be released from South Bend’s St. Joseph Medical Center tomorrow and has “gone above and beyond in her recovery,” said her niece, Kathleen McAdams.

Her road to recovery, however, remains a difficult and uncertain one. That’s where Team Anthony Travel came in.

“As Jill [Bodensteiner, associate vice president and counsel for Notre Dame] and I were driving back from Fort Wayne that night, I said, ‘You know what this means – we’ve got to come out of retirement and play,'” said Liebscher, who had planned to call it quits after last year’s championship loss. “And it was Jill’s idea to do it as a fundraiser and tie it to points.”

Before the tournament began, Bodensteiner and Liebscher began soliciting pledges based on the number of points Team Anthony Travel scored in this year’s Bookstore tournament. To win the tournament, the team would need to score 21 points in each of six games, or 126 points total.

And they did just that, raising over $34,000 to date for the Patricia McAdams Rehabilitation Foundation.

“It just brings tears to my eyes,” said Katie Anthony of Anthony Travel, which first sponsored Liebscher’s Bookstore Basketball team when she was a student in 1993. “They used such a great venue to bring so much joy to Patricia. Being the administrators’ team, we usually have such few fans, but [Monday] the stands were full. It was really all people there for Patricia and cheering her on, and we’re so proud of what they did and how great it was for Patricia.”

Though the tournament’s ending was storybook, its beginning was nearly disaster for Team Anthony Travel. The team, sporting “Playing for P-Mac” across its white jerseys, fell behind early and eventually trailed 17-12 in the cold, wind and rain. But team battled back for a 21-18 victory in “a comeback that certainly reflected Patricia’s spirit,” as Bodensteiner wrote in an e-mail sent to all those who made pledges.

“It was a scare at the time, and I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, we can’t lose this game,’ given what we’d just done,” Liebscher said. “By the same token, it might have been the best thing that happened to because it was an early wake-up call. From that point on, there was much more focus knowing that we’ve got to make this happen.”

The team won its next two games 21-2 and 21-12, respectively, before meeting a bit more resistance in the quarterfinals and the semifinals. But Team Anthony Travel regained its dominating form with McAdams eagerly looking on, winning the championship game 21-14.

“We’re all fairly competitive people to start with, so it’s not like we wouldn’t have put our best efforts forth,” Liebscher said. “But it certainly added a whole extra layer of motivation to know that what we were doing had a chance to make a really big impact and help a friend need.”

As much as the team had hoped to direct all the attention toward “P-Mac,” McAdams herself won’t have any of it. Called a “private, no-frills person” by her niece, McAdams wanted to focus on Team Anthony Travel’s achievements with the basketball, not the checkbook.

“She was happy to be present to see her team win their fourth championship,” Kathleen McAdams said. “One of the best parts was to see all the support received from the fans. It was great for her to see all these people the other night, and while it’s true that a lot of them did come out for Patricia, she was just thrilled to see them supporting the team.”

And with this year’s tournament in the books, McAdams might have just one more question – will she get to cheer on her team for one more year?

“It’s like the whole Michael Jordan [retirement] thing, isn’t it?” Liebscher said with a laugh. “I really enjoyed myself, and if we had the same group or similar people that would be willing to do it, I’d be happy to do it again. And if they need us to do another fundraiser for P-Mac or someone else, then yeah, we’re definitely on board.”

Note:

Donations are still welcome, and those interested may learn more by contacting Sherry DePoy at sdepoy@nd.edu, or by accessing oit.nd.edu/patricia.