Cemented in history: Former Notre Dame Women’s Basketball Head Coach Muffett McGraw receives statue in her honor
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. - The legacy of a Notre Dame icon molded and now cemented in history.
On a cold and damp Sunday morning in December, the University unveiled a statue of former women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw outside of Purcell Pavilion, the first female coach at Notre Dame to have a statue in her honor.
It’s a moment 33 years in the making.
“My first impression was ‘well, I look mean and fierce,’ and every player remembers that look,” McGraw said. “And I thought ‘well, I guess they did capture me.’”
Sculptor Ann Hirsch was selected to immortalize the winningest basketball coach in Irish history. Among her many works, she also created the statue of NBA hall of famer Bill Russell in Boston.
“This is a person that people know what they look like,” Hirsch said. “And they will be comparing that for eternity.”
Ann worked closely with Notre Dame officials on the concept and met with Muffet in person to help bring the statue to life.
The process took nine months to complete.
Every detail, down to the confetti depicting Muffet's 848 Irish victories, 9 final fours, 7 championship game appearances and 2 national titles.
The hall of fame coach's only request was to incorporate her players: 146 shamrocks representing every woman Muffet coached at Notre Dame surround the foundation of the statue.
Dozens of those players were there at the unveiling to celebrate with their coach, including current Notre Dame Women's Basketball Head Coach Niele Ivey.
"I definitely got a chance to know all facets of coach McGraw,” Ivey said. “I think my best stories are the ones that aren't related to basketball. And I think that's the reason why that statue was there is one of the main reasons, because coaching has impacted so many so many lives. Not just with basketball, but just with our who we are as women.”
“It's just weird,” McGraw said. “I can't even describe the feeling of, like, what I walked by there just the other day. And I was like, ‘should I look?’ Or, you know, what, if somebody sees me looking at myself, you know, I keep hoping someone's gonna come and go, ‘Hey, will you take a picture of me?’ And I'll be holding the camera taking a picture of them standing with my statue. That would be fun.”