Former N.J. coach to enter Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

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A former New Jersey high school and college basketball coach will be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in what she says is the “ultimate honor.”

Rose Marie Battaglia became the coach for St. Michael’s in Union City in the early 1950s. The school had just started a girls’ basketball team. The 89-year-old says that she just happened to be there when the priest made his decision.

“I [said], I’ll do it father. Never asked if I knew a thing about basketball. He [says] ‘You’re hired,’” Battaglia says. “Now they’re making six figures. I made $200.”

Battaglia coached for more than 40 years. She has 700 wins under her belt.

At the height of Battaglia’s success, she was coaching two teams at the time — Paramus Catholic and Bergen Community College.

“The nuns were very helpful. If I got on a bus for a game, there was my meal in front of me,” she says. “I loved it.”

Battaglia had quite the record, with back-to-back high school state titles and advancing to the Junior College Final Four.

But she says that she loved the relationships with her players most of all.

Around the time she learned she made the Hall of Fame, Battaglia had a health scare. She had to undergo radiation at Mount Sinai for lung cancer.  She says that nothing will get in the way of her induction. She was first nominated 20 years ago. She says that it is the ultimate honor for a coach.

“I want to live long enough to go to the Hall of Fame,” she says. “Almost there, as I go, ‘Dear God let me live until June 9.”

The induction will be held June 9 in Nashville, Tennessee.

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