2020 Sapora Symposium
Social Justice and Gender: Theresa Grentz
On November 18, 2020, Theresa Grentz met with Dr. Mike Raycraft to discuss the past and future of women's sports. See the recording of the session below.
JULIA GREUEL: Hi guys, good evening. Before we get started, I'll go ahead and introduce myself. My name is Julia Greuel, I am a graduate student here in the Recreation Sport and Tourism Department. I also did my undergrad here in RST, as well. I spend a lot of my time with our student sections, I actually led that organization for quite a while. I also work now for the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics and Marketing, which has obviously been a really interesting year.
So before we do get started, I do want to go ahead and introduce our speaker tonight, Theresa Shane Grentz Over the course of 33 years, she has worked as a head women's basketball coach for the University of Illinois, Rutgers University, St. Joseph University, and Lafayette College. She also served as the US Olympic head coach in 1992.
She got her start as an athlete playing for the Immaculata Mighty Macs in Pennsylvania, and led the team to three AIAW National Championships between 1972 and 1974. Theresa and her team's successes were made into a movie release in 2011 called, The Mighty Macs. She is also a member of the women's Basketball Hall of Fame.
Throughout her coaching career, she's shown a talent for motivational speaking and has given over 1,000 speeches to various groups, from kindergarten classes to Fortune 500 companies. Grentz is owner of the Grentz Elite Coaching, a basketball teaching academy located in Westchester, Pennsylvania. Through the Academy, she has run clinics and camps all over the United States. Before we get to Theresa, I would like to go ahead and send things off to Michael Raycraft for a few more words.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Thank you, Julia. I was saying earlier, I have been looking forward to this conversation since I reached out to Theresa late in the summer. I met Theresa, I believe it was in the fall of 1995, when you came to Champaign, I believe.
THERESA GRENTZ: 1995.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: 1995. And I think this is a big lesson. And I'm speaking out here to the-- I'm speaking to the guys here, I think, more so. I think there is an impact that Theresa makes and made on me, and I think it's a really important lesson here, is she came to town and she taught a 25-year-old traditional male sports fan that there was more to it than I thought.
She taught me how to think big and she taught me how to fine tune my goals. And the lesson, as I reflect on it, it made me a better person, it made me a better parent, better teacher, I hope.
And if there's an impact that she made and she's obviously made a huge impact on her athletes and her sport and her profession. But I think she's made a much bigger impact on people all over the country. And so I'm so grateful for her friendship, I'm so grateful that she came with us tonight. Welcome home to the virtual Huff Hall, Coach, or The Huff, as you would say back in the day. It's great to see you and thank you for being here tonight.
THERESA GRENTZ: Oh, Mike, you're so generous, so kind. You're going to make me cry. We did, we had a wonderful time. And-- Oh, there's my Foxy. He's coming in here to say hello tonight.
When I went to Illinois, it was in '95 and I said, I am an East Coast person, I didn't have the first clue about Illinois. It was Carol Carrs who called me. And said about making a change and I didn't know what-- I had no idea about the fighting Illini. I had seen Lou Henson at times on the NCA with his teams, but that's all I knew.
And even some of my friends from Long Island said, Theresa, what's an Illini? It's like a pasta? I said no, no, it's not Illini. It's Illini. And I knew that the program was not in the best of-- Hey, Fox. No, you were good the whole time. But I thought, we can turn this around. We can make a change here, we can do this. And you take a fresh start, look at it, and that's what we wanted to do.
And I know a lot of people thought I was nuts for doing that, for leaving the East Coast and packing up everything, taking my sons and my family and out we went. And I think that it was a matter of just changing the culture, getting the kids to believe, getting the fans to believe, getting people to believe in what we were doing and who we were and how we did things. It was it was a lot of fun. When I look back, it was great fun.
And Mike, you were a major part of that. The assembly hall, we sold it out. We did all kinds of things. We had birthday parties in there, we had Halloween parades. One year I was Glenda the Good Witch leading a parade with a tiara. Oh, it was crazy. But it was fun, it was a lot of fun.
And I would say to your class that there's one thing you take from me tonight is that, dare to dream. Don't put fences around what you think, don't be-- and don't be afraid. Don't be afraid to step out and to try it. The worst you can do is fail, and you get another chance to start again. So you're young, you have everything in front of you, go for it, and dare to dream big. That would be my thoughts.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Could you talk a little bit about your early career and what led to the story of Immaculata. What that looked like, what it felt like.
THERESA GRENTZ: Well I grew up in Philadelphia in Delaware County, and a neighborhood of all boys. So I had two choices. I could either learn to do what the boys were doing, or I could stay in the house and help my mother clean. Well, cleaning was not one of my highlights, but she did get a hold of me for that. And we can all clean, but the boys I learned, Mike, that boys play differently than girls.
And with the guys-- and they taught me to play baseball, football, and the last thing we learned was basketball. But guys choose teams very differently than girls do. You and somebody else could get in a fistfight, but if you knew that the guy you were fighting with was the best guy for the job, you would choose him on your team.
Women, we didn't choose teams like that. We would choose our best friend, who's most popular, who's got the best bag. You really learn the difference between how men and women think with that, and that was a big part of my growing up. And then went to O'Hara, Cardinal O'Hara, played there, we won, and then went out to Immaculata, which was an all girls, all women's college, there were only 500 in there.
And we had several players who were from the Philadelphia Catholic League, which was a great, great incubator of basketball players. Now there were a bunch of us together from Philadelphia, and I said, OK, I knew that we could all play. I said, I'll tell you what we're going to do. We're going to play four years and we're not going to lose a game. We played four years, and we lost two games. And to be honest, Mike, I'm still ticked about the two that we lost.
So we win, and our first national championship, we play over at Illinois State in Redbird Arena over there in normal Illinois not having a clue what that was about. Then we won a national championship. And those championships set the course for what we're going to do. Marion Stanley is in there, who's now coaching the Indiana Fever. Renee Portland, who was at Penn State and who's now passed. Maureen Mooney was a great player in there, Marlene Stolling-- I mean, they were great players.
And we played well, we played for each other, we wouldn't disappoint each other. And then we went into coaching and that wasn't the plan either. That was just-- it just happened. I didn't want to be a coach. I majored in biology and chemistry, and thought I was going to go into research science with the Smith, Kline, and French.
But that didn't happen. I ended up coaching at Rutgers as the first full time women's basketball coach. I was there for 19 years, and then I got a call from Carol Carrs, and was at Illinois for 12 years. Coached the Olympic team during that time in '92, I coached various United States teams. And it was a great career. It was just-- you kept going and you kept doing things, and you didn't know where the next thing led, but you just did it.
And I think of the teams today. They have charter airplanes, meals are there, it's very, very different than when we were doing it back then. But, that's all part of it.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: How do you feel-- if you were going to-- how has it changed? I mean, the most, if you're looking at it today versus 1970.
THERESA GRENTZ: Well one, I look at that the parents are far more involved than are our parents were then. Our parents were supportive, went to the games, but there were other things to do. The idea of us playing basketball was not a high priority. It was with us and the way we did it, but today, with the AAU's and the parents, and the full scholarship, and get that paid for, that's a total different feel today.
And it's hard, and that's why I think you have so many transfers. Kids that got the scholarship and then they go to school, and they realize, holy moly, this is a lot more work than I thought, and then they transfer. And they think that something is better on the other side. And I really-- I hate the transfers, I really do, because I think that that's where you have to learn.
In order to succeed, you have to fail. And you'll fail more times than you succeed. But the best part is you can just pick yourself back up and you learn and you go on, and that's where you learn about adversity and how to deal with things. And that's what sports is supposed to teach you. How to weather difficult situations later on in your life.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: So let's talk about that. So you talked about the difference between boys and girls and picking teams in Philadelphia in the '60's. How do you think-- how would you describe how a sport impacted women, in terms of-- let's talk a little more broadly. In terms, socially.
THERESA GRENTZ: Well give you, for instance, when I took the job at Illinois, and my salary was in the paper, Ron Gunther has said to me, he got a lot of grief from his guys at the club for paying a woman what he paid me back then. Women in sports, we were in the newspaper probably in the sixth page behind the tirades, it just wasn't done. I can remember that first year, so I was there, one of the local towns, it might have been Decatur, needed a speaker.
So I got sent over there. Well they were absolutely furious that they had the girls basketball coach as a speaker. Well after I spoke and did the job, then it was like, Oh wow, she can really speak. And this is like, we want her next year. They just didn't know that they didn't know. And when we were there, the fact that we could sell out the Huff, we could sell out the Assembly Hall, people loved watching that team play.
If you weren't at the games, I can remember Doug Mill's saying, hey, if you're not at these games, you're not anywhere. You need to be here. It just became a social outing, as well. And that took work, and you were a major part of that when we got involved with corporations, we got involved in the championship packages, we found ways with schools.
And the speaking, we went out, we reached out to the communities and to the different towns, and got interested because there were a lot of girls out there who wanted to play. And there were a lot of parents who had daughters who wanted to play. And the kids and the players I had were great, great, great role models, and they loved them. And that made it. It was a perfect storm that all came together.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: One of the commentaries I give in class all the time is Women's Athletic struggles when marketing people try to market women's athletics like they do men's athletics. And their difference.
THERESA GRENTZ: Well the other thing is, and I can remember having this conversation with Katie Allen and Pat Summitt is that on the women's side, the marketing person would be a great entry level job. We'd get some young buck in there to do the job. And they didn't really want it. And we didn't have a lot of women in the marketing, it was men. And what were they going to do? They were going to do it exactly the same way you're selling the men's program.
Well there's no way that was going to work, and it won't work. And we did it a different way, and we appeal to the nature-- which goes back to my opening statement about boys pick teams one way, girls picked teams another way, and we catered to that formula. And it was a winning formula and we won. So it all worked out.
But today, I think it's very, very different. They can't get a lot of people to come to some of these games, and it hasn't changed. Back in the day there were pockets in the country where there were certain fans that followed. You had the Tennessee's, the Connecticut's, now you have the Louisville's, the Connecticut's, Baylor. But not every game is sold out, not every game are they fighting for those tickets.
And the other thing that they're always trying to do is to get the student body to go to the women's games.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Students, let me say that the ones they are watching, if you'd like to put a question on the Q&A, I'd be happy to take a look at it and ask T. The movie, Coach. So there's been [INAUDIBLE] the student in class are required, part of it is they need to watch the Mighty Mac's, it's on Amazon Prime.
THERESA GRENTZ: OK.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: About the movie?
THERESA GRENTZ: The movie was great. I was coaching in Illinois when I got a phone call from Hollywood saying that they were going to do this movie, the Mighty Mac's. And this had come up before, Mike, that they had made some attempts with this that did not work out. So they said to me, Coach Grentz, we would like you to have a cameo in this movie. And I said, well what are you talking about? And they said, well, we would like you to be either a coach or a referee.
And I said, I don't think so. I'm not doing that. And apparently you don't tell Hollywood that there was a pregnant pause. OK well then, that's the way it's going to go. And they said, well, what do you want to be? I said, well if had done your homework, you would know that my teammates and I, we want to be nuns. So there was another pregnant pause, and they said, we'll get back to you.
So a couple of days later they called back and they said, OK, we have a place in the movie where we are going to cameo your teammates and you, and we were going to put you as nuns. So we said, oh, that's great.
So anyway, they called and they said, Coach Grentz, we need your size for the habit, we have to put you in a habit. I said, I'll tell you what. You get me a very big habit because I'm going to be a very big nun, OK? So we do this.
But the best part about that movie is that, your students have seen it, is that when Carla Gugino comes into the church, it's early. And there's the mass services going on, Carla Gugino doesn't have a seat. So she comes in the side and she goes down and there's 12 rows of actresses who are dressed as college students. And back in the '70's, everything was plaid, so they're all wearing plaid.
And then there are six rows of actresses who are dressed as nuns in full habits. Ellen Burstyn is on the one side because she's playing the role of Mother Superior. So we're in there and it takes forever, Mike, to do a scene in a movie the way they do it, and we're in there forever. So finally the director comes through and there's a break in the action, whatever. And he said, ladies and gentlemen, in this first row on the right here, in the row of professed sisters are the original seven Mighty Macs. And there was a nice little clap like this.
And I swear to you on my father's grave, what happens next is the honest to God's truth. In front, two rows in front of us, are the is absolutely positively drop dead gorgeous actress who turns around to us and says, wow, that is really, really cool. You all went to school together, you all played basketball, and then you all became nuns.
Well, we're looking at each other going, really? OK, all right, whatever. But we had a good time with that, the movies, the movie. It tells some of the story and then as with Hollywood, they took a certain license to have some other things. It's a good story to feel that you never give up, the little guy can win in this one, and we did.
And it's amazing, I do get a lot of calls around March, the end of February and March, of high school coaches in different parts of the country who are trying to motivate their team for the championship and get them fired up. And they'll watch the Might Macs and they'll call, and we'll do a conference or a conversation with the kids. And let them know, dare to dream.
That's the biggest thing. There is no limit on what you can do. The only one who puts limits on you is yourself. Go and do it. And if you don't like it, OK, apologize, move on, and go do it again. Do something else.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: If you could add things to film, what would you add?
THERESA GRENTZ: I would've told the truth. One of the things, Cathy Rush is the coach in there. Now obviously we do not have a nun as an assistant coach, and the nun doesn't have a car. That's not going to happen. But Ed Rush is portrayed as the antagonist really, and that really wasn't how he was. He was very instrumental in us going forward and some of the things that we did. I wish they had portrayed him a little bit more in a little better light that way.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: If she was the first woman inducted into Naismith Hall of Fame, is that right, Cathy Rush?
THERESA GRENTZ: No there's been other ones in Naismith. But she--
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Was she the first?
THERESA GRENTZ: No, no she wasn't the first. But she's rightfully deserved to be there and coaching that team and doing what she did. And again, nobody expected us to win. Nobody expected us to do anything. OK, here's the girls, go ahead, knock yourself out, have a basketball. I mean seriously, our basketballs were so lousy.
This a true story. Our basketballs are so lousy and we would play U of Penn, Temple University, Drexel. And they all had great basketballs, and they had emblazoned in the letter, their name. Well we would-- and this is bad, I told this story at the Hall of Fame, is that when we play those folks, we would take one of the school, their schools good basketballs. But we'd always replace it with one of our not so good, crappy basketballs. And then whoever had to do that, we'd send that girl to confession on Friday to make sure that her soul was in good shape.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Well so many of your teammates went into coaching.
THERESA GRENTZ: Yes they did. And were very successful.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Very, very high profile. Very, very high profile. Yes, were you surprised with that?
THERESA GRENTZ: It wasn't that I was surprised. When I looked back, they were involved we were camp. When we go to camp, we would teach. I mean Tara VanDerveer, Debbie Ryan, we're all at Kathy Rush's camp, and they would teach. And naturally the next thing is it was just breaking out women's sports, and these were going to be the young coaches that were going to take these teams.
And Renee had her run at Penn State, Marianne is still coaching, doing so well. She's the head coach of the Indiana Fever. I certainly had my run. It was just-- and then those kids in those programs under each one of us, they all did something.
So it's just really a nice coaching tree. But who knew? It wasn't something that we planned. It wasn't-- we didn't have that kind of information. We just were like explorers headed out without a map of where we were going here, but we were going.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: You said you were the first full time women's coach [INAUDIBLE]. What was it about Rutgers that made that decision at that time?
THERESA GRENTZ: Well I was third choice. Lucille Corvallis was one of the choices, Cathy Rush was one of the choices, they all turned it down, and I took the job. And I remember the AD said, well, we'll pay you between $12,000 and $15,000. So I said, well, pay me $15,000. And they said, we'll pay you $13,500.
So my first coaching job was $13,500, and I coach both the Varsity and the JV, and swept the floor, did everything. It wasn't like you had people helping you do things. You had drove a van back then, it was great. It was a fun, fun time, it really was. Great things happened.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: I have a question in terms of, what advice would you give women and women of color hoping to get into the industry?
THERESA GRENTZ: Take responsibility. Take responsibility, take jobs, don't be afraid to take it in, and to ask questions. For me when I did it, I went-- if I wanted something, I called a coach. I called Pete Carroll at Princeton. I called-- Oh, God, I can think of his name, Weidner. See Allan Rowe, who learned the 131 defense, he called it the 59 trap back then.
And when I wanted something, I would go ask a coach. And it for me, it wasn't women, it was men. And to find out so I could understand what it was that I was supposed to know and what I was supposed to teach.
And I would tell any young woman today, pick out your mentors, pick out your people that you can go and you trust and you can talk to, and talk to them a lot. And it's good to have mentors. Will you look at this kitten?
So that's what I would do. And I would not be afraid to do it, I would go and do it. I would have my work laid out, and I would go. That's what I wanted to do.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Well I remember vividly, and you touched on this, when you came to Champaign in 1995, the status of where it was in terms of where we were as a University with our women's basketball program. And literally it was at Huff and it was just it was not even-- it just really was a non factor.
THERESA GRENTZ: It really was.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Could you talk a little bit about the community at that time and the sort of things that you faced? And I mean, were you surprised at that when you came?
THERESA GRENTZ: No, I wasn't surprised, but I knew I was from the East Coast. And I figured if I'd want to get this to work, I'm going to have to-- you are my little buddy here. I'm going to have to get the people in the Midwest to trust me, that is the big thing. Coming from the East Coast, I figured they're going to have to trust me and what I'm about.
And that's why I started with the speaking engagement. And you name it, I spoke to them. Whether it was a rotary, or a loyalty club, or a booster club or a Fortune 500 company. I mean, I was all over. That they got to know us, but the thing that backed it up were the players. The players were just great. And they played so hard and they work together in such a-- like they dance together. You are a trip here.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Back in the day, you had a statue of a dog.
THERESA GRENTZ: I still do I had him. No I have him. I wanted a golden, and Carl was like, no, no we're not having any dogs. So I bought this statue of Huff, I think I paid $300 dollars for him. And then I did get a golden, I got buddy, and then I had Jesse.
I just lost Jesse a year ago, another golden that we rescued. But Huff is still in my living room. My grandkids come by him all the time. I put a hat on him for Christmas, and the whole bit. Oh, yeah, He's still here.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Such a good dog.
THERESA GRENTZ: He's a great dog.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Well-mannered.
THERESA GRENTZ: Very, very. But I still have him.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: So in terms of the community, you talked about getting out there, doing a lot of public speaking. And the players-- you had a great-- the players-- everything gelled nicely. Did you feel like, in terms of the community itself getting out there, that those first couple of years were tough in terms of getting people to do the buy in?
THERESA GRENTZ: You asked me earlier what advice I would give to a woman today trying to get in, and I would do this for anybody, is that-- and I went and looked this up, Mike. This was, as you can see, this was one of my note cards that I used when I was in Illinois. And I loved the calligraphy and the way it was done in the gold seal, on the whole thing with Illinois.
I would say to that person who is really serious, every morning I would write three notes. And they could try this is an experiment for themselves to write from now to Thanksgiving. Try because it's hard to do, but write three notes every morning to somebody who has done something for you, has helped you, it doesn't matter.
But make a list of them and write them. And that communication with that card, I can't tell you how many things that's worked for me, and I did that early on, and I've done that all through my career. Writing, just dropping a note. Not an email, not a phone call, but an actual handwritten note to people thanking them for their time and their advice, their quote.
And like I said, it was a card like this, so there wasn't a whole lot you could write on. But it was enough to make an impression on it. So I would do that. And if they know where they are certain people and things, I would definitely tell them to do that. I would use it and I would try it for to Thanksgiving. If you could do it everyday, just write three.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: What do you think women's athletics is going to look like in 20 years?
THERESA GRENTZ: Oh my gosh, I have no idea. I hope there's more women coaches, I really do. We've raised the salary bar, and as a result, we've gotten more men in coaching women. So I hope that we will have some more women come back around in a circular point where there will be more women coaching and getting involved in doing it.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Right. Are there other questions from the students? OK.
THERESA GRENTZ: Are they out there?
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Well, they're out there. They're a shy group. They do this to me all the time. Well, let me see. What do you think-- the question that's come up repeatedly is COVID.
What do you think the impact is going to be on our campuses and college sports and whatnot from the pandemic? Julia did that nice introduction early on in terms of, she's in a particularly tough job. What do you think is going to be the outcome of that?
THERESA GRENTZ: Well certainly trying to market during COVID and to bring people in and to deal with the rules that change every single day. Our rules here in Pennsylvania just changed again today. The hard part right now, and I don't think the Big Ten has put out a women's basketball schedule yet. I'm still close with Rutgers, and I know the Big Ten has a protocol for everything that they want to do and how they want to do their testing and things.
The problem is the non conference schools don't have that same protocol where they're testing all the time. So if you play a non conference school, and there's contamination, and then that leads the Big Ten school contaminates another Big Ten school. So staying in the bubble works, it definitely works. But stepping outside of it is a whole other matter. So that's hard. It just keeps changing. And so we really need a vaccine, and we have to be so very, very careful, very careful at this point.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: So you have two sons and three grandchildren.
THERESA GRENTZ: Right.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Granddaughters?
THERESA GRENTZ: One. First one.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: First one.
THERESA GRENTZ: First one. And she is she's a girl, she's a girl. I told her I'm going to teach her to play golf, she said, gee, Ma. I want to make sure that I have lunch at the club. OK, we could do that. We can do that. So her mother's a big, big Duke fan. So the other day at the basket, she had a Duke shirt on, she was shooting baskets, so we're excited about that.
But I think there are opportunities for women, and we just have to take advantage of it and realize that it might not look exactly the way we want it to look, but go with it. Take responsibility for it, go with it, make it happen. And that's what happened in Illinois. I mean, nobody planned on that being what it was. Nobody planned on us being able to sell the place out. Nobody planned on it.
I mean, we had a TV show that was live, but we sold out. I mean I look back, I think, how dumb was I to do that thing live? But we did, I mean, we did a lot of things, and who knew if it was going to fly or not? Some did, some didn't, but we had fun.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: But I guess my question is, what advice would you give to your granddaughter moving forward?
THERESA GRENTZ: Well, I would tell Emily-- and there's a picture of her on one of our hallways here that my sister and my sister-in-law saw this face and they said, oh my God, that's Theresa's face. And she made it. So they said, Oh, we haven't seen that. So hopefully she's got that personality, fight for what she wants.
I mean, I just don't think you should be told well, you're a woman, and so you just stay home, and you can't think or whatever. And that's the way it was. That's hard for me to take now, now that I'm older. I'm like, wow.
And when we're going through all this, you're in a male dominated business. All your decision makers are male. I could not go in the room, bang my shoe on the table and say, OK, you guys have to give me everything you're giving football. I would have been shown the door, it's that plain and simple.
So I had to learn how to be able to play on the team with the guys, and how to work this, how to make this happen, how to be able to get charter flights, how to be able to get three sets of uniforms, how to be able to do that, but how to be able to give back too. It couldn't be just a constant taking, there was a compromise 95% giving, and the other 5% was compromise.
So working that philosophy to build our program, what we wanted, and have a vision and a plan.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: So you're saying it's timing. Knowing when to ask, what to ask, and how to ask.
THERESA GRENTZ: Right, and knowing your audience. I think when the school could see that people were showing up to see us play, and the style of all that we were playing was good. It wasn't turnover city, we had shooters, we had dominant players inside. When they could see that hey, this was a brand of ball that was entertaining, because that's what it was.
I mean, people have x amount of dollars for entertainment, and they're not going to spend it on chaos. And basketball is chaos in motion, really, when you think about it. And you can't do it the exact same way that the men did it. I mean, everybody goes to the Illini games, the men's games, the football games. And you say, well, why don't you come to the women's games?
You have to have another time, there has to be another facet that you've worked out. And you and I, we've talked many times about Chicago above I-80, and Illinois below I-80, and it's two different places.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Question I've got is, are there organizations that openly reach out to you, or maybe your previous schools, that are looking for guidance in terms of coaching, lifestyle, player development, et cetera. [INAUDIBLE] at all?
THERESA GRENTZ: I've had a couple of my coaching colleagues have, and I do that. And you go spend a couple of days with them, just give them another set of eyes on it. But again, probably one of the biggest things that I've said to them that are in my age group, is that you might have to dial it back just a little bit to deal with the kids today. Because they can't take it the way we did it.
I mean when I was coming up, who were the great coaches? I mean, Bear Bryant, Penn State's guy, Osborne at Nebraska. They were football coaches, and to me, football coaches were the most organized. Because those guys would go out there and take 95, 100 guys, know what's going on, get it all done. And I picked a lot of their brains. So my coaching style back then would never, never cut it today.
It would never-- it wouldn't work. I mean I would be sued, I would be run out of town. I mean, it's just not going to happen. I mean, you can't be sarcastic. You can't tell a kid hey, look, you're really going to have to work on your game. But you've got to find a really nice way to tell them. Otherwise, they're going to say, well, I don't like you anymore and I'm going to go transfer somewhere else.
That part drives me nuts. That part really irritates me because you spend all this money to recruit them, you bring them in, then they get their feet wet, then they transfer out. They sit out another year, they mature a little bit better, and they're constantly paid the same full scholarship. So you're running like a farm system for everybody else. So that part drives me nuts. I mean that's just my personal opinion, I don't want anybody to get upset about that.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: When we got together in the '90's, there were two professional leagues, there was the two top women's leagues that were professional in the United States, the WNBA and what was the other one called? It was the--
THERESA GRENTZ: WPBA, I think.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Right. And that was-- was that where Ashley-- which league did she go to?
THERESA GRENTZ: She went to the NBA-- to the WNBA.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: She went to the WNBA. The WNBA has become increasingly a lot more relevant in the last 10 years.
THERESA GRENTZ: It has. And they've really done a nice job of marketing those games and to their audience, and they've done a good job with that. And you have to give them-- take the hats off. But again, I can remember the players a few years back, they were going to strike. And I think, if these girls strike, they're going to kill this league. Because again, they wanted to get-- it was set up, Mike, differently.
The organizations, the WNBA side was setup set up differently than the men's NBA side. And everything had a cap on it, salaries were capped, you couldn't just decide to pay somebody a lot of money, things like that. You could do a lot of other sponsorships, so that was different. And that's probably where they'd been able to keep that and move that forward, and they've made some strides with it. They've paid their dues, and that's a solid thing. And they did a great job, ESPN, getting the games out this past summer.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: WNBA has been very socially active.
THERESA GRENTZ: Very much so.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: And one of our [INAUDIBLE] is Sheila Johnson. And she and her group, and they have been very vocal in terms of talking about not just gender issues, but social issues of our time regularly. Do you think that's going to have an impact on the college game?
THERESA GRENTZ: Well, I think that sports in our country is living, breathing, art. People watch it, people want to see it. Now, obviously the shutdowns have changed some things. But I definitely feel that they have a platform to voice their opinions, and they can do that. And it gives them a chance to say that there and I said, go for it girls. Go for it.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Are there any other questions from the students?
GUANGZHOU CHEN: Yes, we have two class [INAUDIBLE] is in the chatbox.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: If you see them, Gaungzhou, go ahead.
GUANGZHOU CHEN: OK. So the first question in the chatbox is, how will COVID 19 make an impact on recruiting and the coaching.
THERESA GRENTZ: A terrible impact. I think that this summer, they did have some tournament's where coaches, they did it livestreamed. In other words, exactly the way we're doing this. They had the tournament's played in a convention center, or wherever they were. And they livestreamed them, they copied them. And then the coaches, the schools, had to purchase those streams so they could watch the games at home.
And I think that's [? Huff. ?] Going to the games and watching the kids was one thing, and now being able to do it that way, I mean, I think Julia said earlier when we're talking that classes online are hard. Imagine recruiting and watching all those kids online.
I think that's very hard. And again, I feel very badly for the seniors last year in high school. The kids going in, and those same kids going to be freshmen. The juniors and seniors, I have two nephews right now that are junior and senior in college. And I really feel badly for them because this is their experience. And it's very expensive to go to college to sit home, or to sit-in a dorm and take a class. And college is about the social part of it, and you're not getting that.
As far as the recruiting thing, I think it's very, very hard. And I think you're going to have to really be creative and inventive to get out there, to get your brand out there, and get coaches to see what you're about.
GUANGZHOU CHEN: Thank you, and we have another question. So how do you think women's sports that don't receive much ticket sales, or fans, or sponsors, will survive in a collegiate world, especially at a non big division one school. With more sports getting cut, should the WNBA get more involved at the collegiate level?
THERESA GRENTZ: Great question. Great question because there's always that underlying aging of trying to cut sports. Back in the day, you'd have Rutgers, we had 31, 32 sports. You had Ohio State had 30 something sports. Well obviously, it's very difficult to fund all those sports.
Now with the COVID testing, the putting students up in dorms and meals, and the cost are just-- they're ramping. And I'm fearful that the Olympic sports, the non revenue sports in a lot of these different places will get cut. Could be wrestling, could be baseball, could be swimming, could be fencing, could be golf, men and women's golf.
I mean a lot of these sports could be in serious trouble as we go through this. And that's why I'm really hoping that we can get some answers to the COVID because the more we go down this road that we get in a deeper and deeper hole. And it gives these administrations an opportunity to say, hey, we can't do it, so we've got to cut it.
And a lot of the feedback that you might get ordinarily if there wasn't COVID from the former athletes in that sport that rile up, you won't get it because they realize you can't do it, so I am. I'm very, very concerned about the number of individuals, particularly women, that will be denied that chance to play.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: But one thing you taught me, coach, was we could probably to figure this out. And that women's basketball, I think particularly, is well suited to be a revenue sport. In terms of selling it marketing, sponsoring it, and getting it out there, where it's not necessarily-- to me, it's a sport that's got immense potential for our audience and to make money.
THERESA GRENTZ: I think I agree with you, Mike, but I was so lucky because I had you. I had you and you had that look about you like, OK, lady, what are we going to do here? And I had these crazy ideas, but you were a go getter. And the next thing you know, you're over at Kraft selling 10,000 tickets to these people over here. We put together coloring books, we had 4th and 5th to 6th grade teachers doing geography classes of where our schedule was.
We were doing tickets to grade schools, the kids you had good report cards and things. I mean, we did all those kinds of things. Now, as a head coach I could never, never, never in 1,000 years done that by myself. But having you and your graduate class work with me and put that together, we did that.
But again, when you sell that and you look at people, they look at you like you have three heads. I mean, people did look at us like we had three heads until they saw the people come through the door, until they saw that they were wrapped around the assembly hall three deep. And then I was like, wow. And you want a Big Ten Championship and you had the championship, and then you had these quality players that people-- they wanted their kids to talk to, they wanted their kids to be like Nicole Vasey or Ashley Bergman or Crystal Ranking, or whoever it was. And that made a tremendous, tremendous difference.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Don't you think that can be done at other places?
THERESA GRENTZ: Sure it could. Absolutely. There's no question it could. But you have to have people who want to do it.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: And you're not seeing that?
THERESA GRENTZ: I think it's easier just to say, we can't do it. This isn't going to work, It's too much work.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: And so we want to live in a model where we have men's basketball and football is kind of the revenue producing sports, everybody else just kind of hangs out.
THERESA GRENTZ: Some schools-- I know the volleyball team is still very, very good at Illinois. And they were in the Final Four just what, two years ago?
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Yes.
THERESA GRENTZ: But you have some great teams in the Big Ten that are like that. So they've changed their facilities, I know Penn State has done-- we used to play basketball in that hall. They've changed that to a volleyball arena. So you had that, people want to see that. And the volleyball is one where the student body really gets after it and goes and watches them play.
So again you have to be able to have your players relate to your audience.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: OK. Well, T, I think we're at that point. I certainly, I want to say it again, how much I appreciate you, you changed my life. And I appreciate you being here tonight. That's great, I always enjoy the conversation. I'm just so impressed with what you have to say and what you've done. And it's been a valuable part of my experience, thank you.
THERESA GRENTZ: My pleasure. I hope I didn't bore your class too much tonight. The old broad did, but anyway, it was fun. I wish you all the best. To the students and things, this is your time. I would definitely communicate with people that you're interested in, send them a note. Might not hear from them, and you just might hear back from them.
And that might make a difference in what happens to you later on down the road, because I can't tell you how many times that happened. So go fighting Illini, be well. And thank you for the invitation.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: No, it was really good.
THERESA GRENTZ: Always fun.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Really good, it's always fun, it's always fun. I think it's-- I, frankly, and I'll say it again, I think there's opportunity there for women's basketball, women's athletics. I think to say that they're not going to make money because that's what you taught me, coach.
THERESA GRENTZ: Well, you can. If you have a team, and you have a plan, and you have to have a vision. And you have to be able to go beyond and realize, OK, to me, it's a natural. It's a no brainer if you take a community, and you say, OK, for $500, I want you to play for-- I want you to put $500 dollars in here, and we're going to take x amount of tickets, and we're going to give them to x amount of schools. And have an A tier, a B tier, and a C tier of games, and you get people in there.
And companies, you put them up on those big score boards. Tonight's game is sponsored by, [INAUDIBLE] and such, and such. A school is here because [INAUDIBLE], then it's community, it's back and forth. It's not just basketball. And that's where you get people involved to get their name out there. They're looking for ways to get their name out there.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: We didn't have cell phones or social media, did we? Could you imagine-- Could you imagine? I mean, that would have changed in terms of the opportunities that we could go with that.
THERESA GRENTZ: Well, Facebook, Facebook is more for an older group. Instagram is more of your college students and things. Twitter is like your newspaper, you put that in there and make that run, and then the websites. The websites with the apps and things, there's so many things you could do. So many stories you can tell about your players, put that out there, promote it. But again, you have to be creative.
You have to be able to think out of the box a little bit. Julia, are you taking all this down?
JULIA GREUEL: Yes, mentally. I like how you talked about, you really can't market it the same way that you do revenue sports. It's so much different in the way that you focus on doesn't [INAUDIBLE] sports doesn't have to be completely different. And think there are a lot of people in the industry that don't realize that. Or don't think--
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: They don't. I didn't.
DICK DETZNER: How is it? What is the thing that you do differently for marketing women's sports?
JULIA GREUEL: So it's all different because I think every different sport has a different kind of fan base. Like gymnastics is way more younger kids that are going to come to that. And same with like wrestling, there's a lot more. Like it's just way different demographics that go to them, so it really is about looking at each separate sports demographic and marketing them to that, I would say.
THERESA GRENTZ: You want your sport, you want your marketing, you want to make the old, the new. And you also want to try and make, what is it that your program is going to do that your community doesn't expect it to do? How are you going to do that?
For instance, one of the things-- and I'm doing this with golf in Philadelphia, and COVID's held me back a little bit. But I took this from Notre Dame, they have the Teddy bear game. So you come in, you bring a Teddy bear. And at halftime, they throw the bears down onto the floor. And then they bring out the big laundry carts, equipment carts, they pick up all the bears, they put them in there, and then they take the bears to a hospital.
And they get the kids to come in and you go around the hospital, and they usually do this around Christmas time, which is perfect. Because then here you have all these kids in the hospital getting these Teddy bears, and it's the Teddy bear game. I think it's great. Now for me, I'm thinking, OK, well let me take this-- and I also know Jack Nicklaus when he and his wife, Barbara, had the foundation in Florida. They also are about Teddy bears, and the children, and the pediatric foundation as a whole, so it just fits.
Well I was thinking, take that Teddy bear at one of our tournaments in the summer with women's golf, which people think it's an elitist, country club type of group. And have everybody bring a Teddy bear. And in the summertime, take it to the hospitals. Because everybody at Christmas and things are going to kids hospitals. But in the summertime, it would be a totally different time.
You'd have an open calendar there to be able to do that. Or to be able to have a food pantry, like if Illinois basketball, women's basketball, had a food pantry where you came to the games and next thing you know, you are bringing in foods to send to-- But again, you have to have it organized because you can't do this yourself.
But then you're feeding and you're supplying certain pantries for the homeless, because that's a big thing right now. There's a lot of people that need that more so than ever. I mean, they're just a couple ideas there that fits.
Now, you wouldn't do that for an Illinois men's game or a football game. You wouldn't do food stuff and you wouldn't do Teddy bears, but you would do it for a women's game because you're trying to take what you're doing here when you're bringing people together in a community to take them outside of themselves. And you're doing something for somebody else, you're trying to be more inclusive, you're trying to be more diversified. How are you doing those Things that's what has to happen.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: So much about the community. we would focus on women's health issues, women in business, girls. I mean, I remember, Theresa, because the Girl Scout cookie season was always right in the middle--
THERESA GRENTZ: That was huge.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: And right the middle of the women's season was the cookie season. And we always would do kind of ceremonial Theresa would always buy the first box of cookies and counting. And it was [INAUDIBLE] Women in business, we did a sorority paddle exchange.
THERESA GRENTZ: That was a big thing.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: You were-- weren't you initiated into Sigma Kappa?
THERESA GRENTZ: I certainly was. I have it, I have that paddle, yes I do.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: And so that's the type of thing where we haven't seen that in a long time, in terms of the coach and [INAUDIBLE]. You can't really leave it to the athletes.
THERESA GRENTZ: No, but they'll follow you. They will follow you, but you have to pick out what your causes are. With COVID, and I said to my mother, I said, can you imagine being in a relationship this is an abusive relationship in COVID and being locked down? Like, what a horrendous situation.
So if you would latch on, you put your wagon on to women's centers or something to that nature during this time, that's a home run. I mean they're just the things-- you want to be able to be in the community, and you want to be able to do things for everybody else. Oh and by the way, we do play basketball, and people will come. People will come.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: And that was what I was going to get to is the community's what got them there, but what kept me there was the game. And there was an opportunity to educate people about women's basketball is different than men's basketball.
And the commentary that I always give, if you really like basketball and you like watching the plays develop and coaching in terms of-- if you're really a student of the game. That's the thing I learned from watching your games, was to me was much more interesting, because it is a different type of basketball.
THERESA GRENTZ: That, and the fact that one of the things that the kids said to me afterwards, I call them kids, they're not kids anymore, but I'll always call in kids, Is that saying to them in practice, we're going to win this, we're going to do that is one thing. But they said, Coach Grentz went outside and said it publicly. Either the woman truly believes this, or she's totally nuts. One or the other.
And they were like, OK, I mean, is she nuts? That was the other thing, and then I came back and said, no, this is what we're going to do, this is how we're going to do it, you're going to do it, and you're going to win. And when they won. Then they were of another-- OK, then they threw off the shackles, then they threw off the chains. Then they said, we can do anything we want.
And when you look at them in their lives, what they have done, and what they have accomplished is amazing. They're fabulous, fabulous role models and women. And to come back, they are people that I would bring back in Zoom messages to talk to my present team. I would bring them in and say, OK, tell them about-- tell me about this, that, the next thing. Was it hard here? It was hard. Did they get yelled at? Yes, they got yelled at. Were they happy with me every day? Probably not, but they're happy today, and that was my job. That was my job.
And I just think there are ways that you've got to think outside the box to involve that community in what you're trying to do. Because telling them, hey we got a game and we're going to play Michigan State on Saturday, or whatever day. And tickets are $2 dollars or $4 dollars, they're not going to come.
Here's the thing. I said, the least reason that people will do something is money. It's not money. The next reason that they'll actually do something is because of good leadership. But the real reason they will do something is a cause. And I'll go back to that New Year's day. After New Year's day, the second year I was here, and I said-- Carl and I were having dinner on New Year's Eve, and he was really getting on my case about the attendance.
And I went on the radio that next Monday or Tuesday and they were talking about the Polar Bear Club. And they said, oh, Coach, you need to jump and join the Polar Bear Club. And I'm like, you're out of your frickin' mind. I am not joining any Polar Bear Club. And if you had come to me and said, OK T, listen, we got a great promotion. We want you to jump in the Lake of the woods. Right I'm going to really-- like, would you please leave my office? Just get out. That's what you need to do.
But then I thought to myself, OK guys. I'll tell you what. We were playing Michigan State on Friday night and Ohio State on Sunday. I said I'll tell you-- and we're playing in the Huff. And I said, OK, tell you what, here's what we'll do. You get me 4,500 people on Friday night and 4,500 people on Sunday afternoon, and next Tuesday I will go jump in a lake with the Polar Bear Club's.
And now I said, you've got to go get all your other DJs. Well damn it, they did it. They went and they got all the other DJs, talked it up. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday all the way through for Friday night. So that's when it was like 47 degrees when I said this, that I'll jump in this lake. And then Friday night comes, and we play Michigan State, and the kids are like, she's going to jump in this lake. We better win.
So the kids then realize they better play hard. So we beat Michigan State and I think we had 4,100, and the fire marshals were there, that was a pain. But we didn't get the 45. And then Sunday, we had 43 for Ohio State, and we won both those games, which nobody expected us to win. We win them. So Tuesday comes and now I'm supposed to jump in this lake, and it's 14 degrees.
And that's where we go down to the Lake of the woods and the EMT, the engine, the sirens are going and the whole bit. I'm thinking, they got to bring a fire truck in because the lake is frozen. They've got to break it with the axes, the whole thing. Chop this thing up.
What did I do? What did I-- so anyway. So the Lord, I mean, there's divine Providence with me. I did a lot with the fraternities, well sure enough, just as I'm thinking, I got to do this. And the radio stations down there, the TV stations are down there, the newspapers, the whole thing.
This Car pulls up, this load of fraternity brothers. They pop out, it is 14 frickin' degrees, these guys have Speedos on. Coach Grentz, we're here to help you. We're going to jump in the lake for you. I'm thinking, Oh my God, these guys are [INAUDIBLE]. They got-- you know the Ducks Lifesaver thing, that one guy had that on. I'm thinking, Oh God. There they go. So they jump into the lake. It is so stinking cold that when they go in and they come out, their hair is frozen. It's frozen.
So they got the EMT guys putting blankets around them and the whole bit. And they're going, we're going to help you do this. I'm thinking, Oh God, they can't-- they did this, no I have to do this. They said, you don't have to go in. We didn't have [INAUDIBLE]. No, no.
So I had a jacket on and I had a sweatsuit on. So I raised up the sweat pants, took my shoes and socks off, walked in to the lake, got in there up to my knees. And I thought, this has to be the most stupid thing I have ever, ever done in my entire life. But there I was on the front page of the paper, jumping in a stupid lake of the woods. Went home, I was absolutely frozen. I can't imagine that those guys-- but I think they had been a few libations from the weekend, still.
But Oh my God, I mean, it was nuts. Who does that? I mean, and the next day, people were bringing me polar bears with little-- and I have one downstairs. It's a little polar bear and it has an orange and blue tweed necklace. I mean, the community loved it, so what are you going to do?
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: And that's what it has to be.
THERESA GRENTZ: And that was spontaneous. But that was where it wasn't money, it wasn't the leadership, it was a cause. I needed those two games sold out. And once those two games sold out, we were on our way. We won a Big Ten Championship.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Because they came back.
THERESA GRENTZ: They came back. They wanted to see them play. And they played they played hard, they were-- like, there was a clip on Facebook yesterday of the 90-17. And I watched it again and I thought, Oh my gosh, watch these kids. They all dance together, they move together.
I mean there's a pass in there, Cady Coleman throws it the full length of the court. Ashley Burger catches it and lays it in, and Kristen Rankings knocking down 3's. Alicia [? Shewers ?] was taken the baseline. It was just-- and Nicole Vasey is playing in the post. They've just-- they played together, and it was a dance, and people liked it.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: I had forgotten and you brought it up about that craft. We did sell them $10,000.
THERESA GRENTZ: You went over and you said to me, hey, I'm going to sell them 10,000 tickets. And I thought [INAUDIBLE] and you sold them. You sold 10,000 tickets. And I mean, we had-- if I remember, you had the day shift, the night shift, and then you had the owl shift or something else. You had all kinds of things going.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: And all their friends, and brothers, and nephews, and you name it, yes.
THERESA GRENTZ: Yes it was-- and then when we did the schools, I spoke to 76 schools from September whatever, to October, because we practiced October 15. I did. I either did breakfast and lunch, lunch and dinner, breakfast and dinner, every day, all the way up to it was time for practice.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: You just don't see that type-- that type of coaching, it's not done.
THERESA GRENTZ: And then we had-- because I couldn't get the players to go with me to the schools. So I said, I can't take these kids out of school. So I had life size-- remember, cut outs made of them, and I had them all lined up. So I would take those things with me and put them in the gym. And say, this is Cindy Dallas, and this is Angelina, and this is somebody else, and it was great. It was great. We had a lot of fun.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Well, Coach, I've taken enough of your time.
THERESA GRENTZ: Oh no, it's fine.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: It was-- this was, again, this was so much fun. It's so much fun to kind of visit that. And I mean it, really, you have no idea the impact that it made. And I don't think I knew at the time. You got to be older before you [INAUDIBLE].
THERESA GRENTZ: Yeah I know.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: What happened four or five years ago, they call me about three weeks-- this is part of the symposium that I do. I got a call and they said, hey, would you take over the symposium? It's in four weeks and we don't have any students signed up yet and we don't have any speakers. And I was like, yeah. This is exactly my kind of a project.
You don't want to pick up someone else's gold standard. You want to help create something that's your own, and that's what you did. And that's what you taught me that. And I have used that time, and time, and time, again, is find your own.
Find your own diamond in the rough and make it yours. Don't pick up somebody else's, make it yours. And so honestly, and I say that all the time. We try to encourage people to, as you would say, dream big.
THERESA GRENTZ: You're so kind, Mike, you really are. You're making my heart [? break. ?]
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: I mean it. I'm just saying and a lot of people don't get to say that back in terms of, I just want you to know I really--
THERESA GRENTZ: I appreciate that, I really do.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: It meant a lot and it means a lot. And I swear to you I continue to tell the stories, and I always will.
THERESA GRENTZ: Well that's great. Julia, if I can be any help to you, let me know. I'm here.
JULIA GREUEL: I appreciate that. I'll ask Mike for your email.
THERESA GRENTZ: I'm retired.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: Well send my best to Carl and everybody.
THERESA GRENTZ: I will.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: And we'll be in touch again.
THERESA GRENTZ: OK.
MICHAEL RAYCRAFT: All right. Thanks a lot.
JULIA GREUEL: Bye.