Mikaelyn Austin may have moved on from the Penn women’s basketball team, but her heart has not.
The San Diego native and Fine Arts major has been spending the last few months researching and writing a documentary film on the history and traditions of the Palestra, where she spent four years roaming the court in a Quakers jersey.
“This is really like the birthchild of my love for the Palestra and my love for film,” Austin said in an interview yesterday. “It’s a part of my life where I’m looking for something to do, and searching for something that is worthwhile and interesting, and it’s something that ought to be done, in my opinion.”
Austin admits that it is somewhat surprising that she has come to love this Philadelphia landmark.
“I had never heard of the Palestra before I came here,” she said. “But it didn’t take long at all, to be sure.”
Austin told a story which she learned from former Penn coach Kelly Greenberg, now the head coach at Boston University, about former Quakers hoops star Dave Wohl.
According to Austin, at one point during his freshman year, Wohl, who had been a standout football player in high school, “decided to play pick-up [basketball], and they told him to go over to the Palestra. So not knowing what it was, he walked in there, took one look and said, ‘This is what I want to do.'”
Austin, who went on to finish fourth all-time in three-point shooting for the Quakers, later found out that Greenberg told that story to all of her recruits, in order to teach them about the building they would soon call home.
“It was a really cool story nonetheless,” Austin said.
Indeed, after only four years in Philadelphia, Austin has come to clearly grasp just what it is that makes the arena so special.
“It’s like a sixth sense — it’s not so much a familiar smell, or a familiar look, it’s just an emotion,” she said. “It’s like a living time capsule — you walk in, you feel like you’re standing next to people who played there in the inaugural game in 1927. It’s something that I’ve never felt in any other building.”
Austin noted that the Palestra’s small capacity compared to more modern arenas is an asset when it comes to generating atmosphere.
“You walk into a stadium anywhere, a multi-million dollar stadium, and you’re sitting there, and you’re looking at the players, and they look more like ants than basketball players. … You can’t feel basketball unless you’re lucky and privileged enough to have $500 to sit really close,” she said. At the Palestra, “you can feel basketball even if you’re up in the far northeast corner.”
For all of her passion, though, it has not been easy to get the project off the ground. While Austin has been able to talk to many people with deep connections to the Palestra and the Big 5 — including Penn athletic director Steve Bilsky, Palestra Pandemonium author Robert Lyons and current Philadelphia Phillies and Eagles public address announcer Dan Baker — funding to buy the equipment necessary to make the movie has been hard to come by.
“I couldn’t honestly tell you where the money’s going to come from, but I can tell you that it’s got to come from somewhere in order for it to y in the Carabao Cup second-round with a 3-1 victory at Turf Moor.Clarets boss Sean Dyche was ultimately punished for making 10 changes to his side, which included a debut for Chelsea loanee Danny Drinkwater.Jay Rodriguez gave the Premier League clubreally happen like it should,” Austin said.
“It’s going to happen somehow or other by next May,” she added, saying that hef Cristiano Ronaldo.Ronaldo left Madrid for Juventus over a year ago – and Calderon says the club is yet to recover.He told AS: “He should never have left, it’s amazing that he was let go. “It’s impossible to do without such a player. 60 goals per ser goal was to have the movie done by final exams next semester in order to hold a viewing of the film while students are still on campus. “So that I can have a viewing of it in the Palestra and invite people on campus to come and fill the building to watch it.”
Austin set up a Web site, www.palestradocumentary.com., where she has posted information about the movie as well as a short introductory trailer.
She also put out something of a “help wanted” ad through the Kelly Writers House. Through that, she has gotten in touch with a number of people who have offered to help.
Chief among them are Greg and Gavin O’Connor at Solaris Entertainment. The O’Connors, both of whom graduated from Penn, recently directed the blockbuster movie Miracle about the 1980 gold medal-winning United States Olympic ice hockey team. Solaris is helping with the production elements of the documentary.
“Getting somebody to help the post-production side is easier than pre-production, because [the latter] is actually something that people can look at and stick their name on” when it comes to giving help, Austin said. “I’m working really hard, talking to lots of different people to get something done.”
That work is fueled by still-fresh memories of two Ivy League championships and countless other great moments on the Palestra’s floor. If the film does come to frui NHS staff free accommodation at the Millennium Hotel during the fight against coronavirus.The Blues are making the Millennium Hotel at Stamford Bridge available to hospital staff who are tirelessly working around the clock during this coronavirus crtion, it will likely be a fitting tribute to the experiences of many more people than just Austin herself.
“It’s just a place where player, fan, coach, fanatic — all of it is just one,” she said. “It’s not the players play, and the fans watch, and the coaches coach and the refs ref. Everybody is just one entity, and everybody’s a part of the building and a part of each other’s experience.”