112. Margaret McCaffery: Wild at Heart – (Part 1)

We are here today with special guest, Margaret McCaffery. Margaret claims University of Iowa’s coach Fran McCaffery as her husband, but is a legend in her own right. We are happy to spend a little time with Margaret on her birthday and share part one of Margaret’s story.

Today we discuss:

  • Margaret’s birth story in the wilds of Zambia Africa 54 years ago, as her parents were teachers at a remote school during a time of government unrest in Africa.
  • The story of Joseph, a young local that was “so sorry” that Margaret’s parents had a girl. Joseph eventually took a shine to strong willed Margaret and took her with him everywhere he would go.
  • Margaret shares that her dad was a gardener, kept chickens and was locally famous for killing a spitting cobra with a pitchfork! The family’s move home to Minnesota where three younger sisters were born and were raised in a family of strong women.
  • Margaret’s grandmother was a pioneer and role model, involved in politics. At 18, Margaret voted for her grandmother for vice president, when she appeared on the Minnesota ballot with Eugene McCarthy.
  • Margaret shares the impact of having strong independent female role models abundant and accessible within the family and how autonomy granted by her parents allowed all four sisters to thrive in their own right.
  • How Margaret’s love of sports began early and she had the family’s support to be the only girl on the football team. Her unconventional decision to go to Notre Dame to play basketball that showed the strength of feminine independence of the women within the family.
  • The inspirational time Margaret spent in France, how it influenced her, and the lessons she learned that informed future life decisions and commitments.
  • How a phone call from Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw changed the course of Margaret’s life, and led to a move back to Notre Dame and to dating Fran McCaffery.
  • Join us next week for part two!


Margaret McCaffrey is often referred to as University of Iowa Basketball coach Fran McCaffrey’s wife, but she is a legend in her own right.  Margaret was a stellar athlete and played basketball for Muffet McGraw at Notre Dame in the early 90’s. Post graduation, she intended to go to law school at the University of Minnesota, but was called by Coach McGraw to join the coaching staff at ND. It was there she met her now husband Fran McCaffrey, and began law school. Margaret is the mother to four children and has supported them in their interests and basketball careers.  In 2014, her son Patrick was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and she spent a year focused on caring for him.  Patrick is now cancer free but the McCaffreys have devoted their philanthropic efforts to fighting cancer. They helped start the adolescent and young adult Cancer program at the university of Iowa and have raised millions of dollars.  In 2022 she received the National American Cancer Society’s distinguished St. George award for being an outstanding volunteer.  She has served on the American Cancer Societies National Board of Directors since 2018, and along with Fran has championed the Coaches vs. Cancer program.

Mentioned today:

Coaches vs. Cancer

Open Heartland

Learn more:


We’d love to hear from you:

In season two we’d love to hear from you, our community. What are your thoughts on re-wilding and living your authentic life? Please call or e-mail us with your story, questions, topics you’d like to explore, guests you’d like us to reach out to….

We’ll even play or read your question live on our show. E-mail: tendherwild@gmail.com
Or call: 319-354-4062

If you like this episode, check out previous similar episodes:

Women Finding Their Voice

The Rising Feminine: Teamwork through the Lens of Iowa Women’s Basketball

Follow us:
@tendherwild @dryogamomma @katemorelandcoaching

Today’s episode supported by: {made} community
* On behalf of Open Heartland

For sponsorship opportunities or to partner with us:

Partner with us – Tend Her Wild