WNBA star Tamika Catchings, the 6-foot-1 standout from Tennessee, is entering her 14th and final season with the Indiana Fever. And while the basketball star is used to having the spotlight on her, she said she's ready to shine that light on other young athletes and give back to the game that's given so much to her.
Catching's will be serving on the voting panel for the 2016 Allstate Women's Basketball Coaches Association Good Works Team. The team is in its fourth year and recognizes a group of 10 women's college basketball players, from all divisions of the sport, who go above and beyond in community service activities and selfless acts when they're off the court. Catching was chosen from 154 nominees to represent the Good Works Team for the 2016 season.
Swish Appeal: Talk a little bit about your role as part of the Allstate WBCA Good Works Team.
Tamika Catchings: I'm super excited to be a part of this. For me being able to celebrate and recognize 10 young ladies, five from D1 and five from D2 D3 and NAIA, it's an honor for me to be able to represent the team and promote them for things that they're doing not just on the court but off the court.
SA: What do you want to leave behind as your legacy?
TC: I want to be remembered more so for what I do off the court. This is a platform I've been able to have for years and being able to even that platform with what I've been doing off the court is what I would want to be remembered for. It's a blessing to be a part of this team and see all the great things that student athletes are doing on the collegiate level and hopefully on into either their careers or at the professional level.
SA: How did you work to come back from your injury your senior year at Tennessee?
TC: My faith, definitely. Also the people around me and obviously since 7th grade I've wanted to make it to the WNBA and follow in my dad's footsteps. Then, freshman year of college the WNBA came around and I couldn't believe it. I tore my ACL senior year, like that close to making it to the WNBA. So it was just the determination. I knew I'd get back, and when I did get back, I was going to be better than I ever was before I got hurt.
SA: What would your advice be for female athletes trying to make it in a sport so often overlooked by male athletes?
TC: Work hard. Set your goals and make sure every day that you work towards accomplishing those goals. That's kind of how I've lived my life literally since I was young. Setting goals and striving to achieve them. I think the thing that I've always had is my determination and my passion. I go after the things that I am passionate about and that I'm determined to do.
SA: What kind of impact did Pat Summitt have on your life during your time at Tennessee?
TC: She was awesome! When I think of her and what she brought to MY life...obviously basketball and on the court that speaks for itself. But when I think about Pat, I just always think about how she always preached, ‘We are going to be great women.'
She focused on what we did on the court; she focused on what we did in the classroom, and she focused on what we did in our community and just the underlying things that were already there that we didn't think about. When I think of Pat, I think about being a great woman, and looking back on my career, I see a lot of the things I do I learned from her.
SA: You're going into your 14th and final season in the WNBA, you've accomplished so much, what is your goal for this last season?
TC: Well, to have fun! To win of course, but we're going to do a farewell tour. So we're going to do a postgame party to celebrate my fans too. I've had the opportunity to meet a lot of people in different cities so were prepping for that. We will be handing out $2,000 in each city equaling a total of $24,000 as part of our legacy tour.
We want to leave something behind that we know will leave a lasting impact in every community. Obviously I want to win of course, but I really just want to have fun and leave the game by putting it back into other young athletes' hands.
As Catchings enters her final season, she said she hopes not only to make an impact on the court, but in the lives of young athletes everywhere. And if there's one thing she wishes to be remembered for, it'd be the impact she left on those around her.