Tamika Catchings is best known for being one of the best women’s basketball players in the world. What you might not know is the WNBA superstar also has an impressive resume of community service accomplishments, something she holds dear to her heart.
Tamika took the time out of her hectic schedule to talk to BlackSportsOnline about her impact on women’s basketball, her Catch the Stars foundation, her role as an ambassador for the All State WBCA Good Works Team as well as why community service and giving back is so important to her.
BSO: When people hear your name the first thing that comes to mind is ‘This is one of the greatest basketball players in the world.’ You are an Olympic gold medalist, a WNBA Champion, a WNBA MVP, and you were an NCAA Champion at the University of Tennessee. Your on-court accolades date back over a decade. With that being said a lot of people don’t know that you also have a very impressive resume of service accomplishments as well.
Recently, you partnered with All State and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association to become an ambassador of the All State WBCA Good Works Team. Can you explain what that is and what it means for you personally as well as the nominees?
TC: Yeah, I’m really excited to be a part of the All State WBCA Good Works Team again. We just announced the 84 nominees and we’ll narrow it down to ten. I’m really excited because I think we always look at what these young ladies do on the court and the success they have on the court whether individually or as a team. We very seldom look at the things that they’re doing in the community and this is an opportunity to really put these young ladies in the spotlight where everybody can see the wonderful things that they’re doing out in the community. It’s inspiring for me and for the communities that they’re impacting and it has to be inspiring for the young people that they’re catering to.
BSO: What inspired you to take such a huge interest in community outreach?
TC: My father actually played in the NBA for 11 years so I grew up around him as a professional in the NBA going out to a lot of community events. I remember giving out Turkeys for Thanksgiving and giving out holiday gifts for Christmas as a little girl. Also in college, that was something that Pat emphasized at the University of Tennessee. It’s not necessarily what you do on the basketball court or what you do in the classroom, but also what you do in the community that makes you a well rounded person. I think the biggest thing for me is I could have the worst day, I could have a bad shooting day, a bad practice whatever the case maybe. But when I make an appearance and see the smiles on these kids’ faces it just changes your whole mood and it puts everything into perspective. And I know the same goes for these young ladies that are doing all these great things. It’s so impressive because they already realize the impact that they can make and it’s not necessarily the skills that they have on the court that are taking them there. It’s the will to want to turn around and help that next person up.
BSO: You have your own nonprofit organization. Can you tell us what made you want to start that? Who is the target audience that you want to reach out to?
TC: We started “Catch the Stars” foundation back in 2004. It’s for boys and girls ages 7 all the way up to 16 and we focus on fitness, literacy, and mentoring. We have about 13 programs that we offer throughout the year here in Indianapolis. One of the main reasons I started it is when I came to Indiana in 2001 after I was drafted I didn’t know anything about the city. I definitely didn’t want to go home after practice and just sit around so I told our community relations director that I wanted to get involved. The more I got involved I realized there are a lot of kids that need help or that are looking for something positive. The first year we had a camp and then the next year we added a fitness clinic. After that we teamed up with Women Sports Foundation and did their Go Girl Go program and from there it took off. We’re up to 13 programs here in Indianapolis and we do things pretty much year round. It’s just been a lot of fun.
BSO: How do you feel you have contributed to the growth of women’s basketball?
TC: I think the WNBA helped the growth of women’s basketball more than anything. Young girls now can look up to female basketball players and aspire to be like them whereas when I was growing up I looked up to guys because that’s all we saw playing basketball on TV. So just being able to be a part of the WNBA.
BSO: Coming back to the WBCA, how are the finalists chosen?
TC: The players are nominated by somebody at their school and we are given a resume full of things they have been involved in. After that, a committee will go through the resumes and select the finalists.
BSO: Last question, what does being a representative of the WBCA mean for these players?
TC: This award is for women’s basketball players who are not only stars on the court but stars in their communities. It’s a way to receive recognition for the great things they are doing in their communities which in the grand scheme of things is more important than how they perform on the court. Being selected to this team gives you an opportunity to touch and empower more people which is something all of these girls value.
To find out more about the All State Women’s Basketball Association Good Works Team click here.
For more information on Tamika Catchings’ Catch the Stars foundation, you can visit the site here.