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Tamika Catchings is excited about the Indiana Fever and their future

The Indiana Fever’s director of franchise development opens up about her new role and the bright future of the current team.

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Tamika Catchings is now two years removed from playing in a WNBA game. She is now Pacers Sports and Entertainment’s director of franchise development, where she works on player development for each of the organization’s three franchises: the Fever, the NBA’s Indiana Pacers and the G-League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

“One of my interests going into the job last year was that I really wanted to focus on helping our players,” Catchings said in an interview with Swish Appeal. “I feel like as a player, you are so in tune to the game and so engulfed in what your job is, as far as playing basketball. We wait until it’s too late.”

In her current role, Catchings stresses to players that they only have a limited time to take part in some professional opportunities, like higher profile community service or broadcasting, because their playing days are limited.

“Players come into the league and have these opportunities. But they also have to take advantage some of the opportunities that are presented. Because when they’re finished, those opportunities are not always there. I’m really trying to get our players to understand that,” Catchings said.

Being in the front office allows Catchings to wear a different set of hats in the long run. Perhaps she could become the first GM of an NBA team at some point, which Catchings previously stated was one of her goals.

When asked about that, Catchings was still open to the idea of becoming a GM one day, but remained open to other possibilities. “I definitely want to see where everything will lead me down the road,” said Catchings. “Right now I am extremely happy in my role and all the different things I do.”

As a player, Catchings was known for being one of the WNBA’s best players. She was the 2011 WNBA MVP, a five-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year and a four-time Olympic gold medalist for Team USA.

But as a player, Catchings was just as well-known for her community service off the court. She started the Catch the Stars Foundation, which conducts basketball camps throughout the United States. She also won the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award twice, in 2008 and 2016, and won the initial ESPN Sports Humanitarian Award in 2015.

Though Catchings is involved with the Fever players off the court, she still gave her insights on this year’s team, in particular, Indiana’s rookies. In short, Catchings is excited about the future of the Fever.

“I am super excited about this group. One thing that I think people dismiss is that we have many new faces on our team. And not just with our three rookie draft picks: Kelsey Mitchell, Victoria Vivians and Stephanie Mavunga. I still consider Hind Ben Abdelkader a rookie as well even though she’s been playing professionally overseas.”

Mitchell is second in scoring among all rookies, averaging 16.7 points per game, while Vivians scored in double figures in three of her last five games.

Indiana is currently a WNBA-worst 1-11 in the 2018 WNBA season. However, Catchings was quick to point out that this team isn’t playing as bad as its record.

“I just said that we’re probably the best 0-10 team you’ve ever seen,” Catchings said, referring to their June 14 loss to the Dream. “Just from the standpoint of the talent that we have, like you said Kelsey Mitchell, what she brings to the team with her scoring. Victoria Vivians also had two really great games against Atlanta.”

With rebuilding teams, it’s important to look at the trajectory and energy the younger players bring more so than wins, at least right now. Catchings is very optimistic about the Fever’s direction.

“I’m excited not only for this year, but also looking to the future. Being able to have a young team that you can build off of, and that’s [the] biggest thing right now,” Catchings said when asked about the future. “I think we’ll be really successful, probably sooner than later. And next year I think we’ll come out the gate swinging.”