Heading into her 14th season in the WNBA, Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings has seen and done just about everything at all levels of basketball.
Before the Final Four, Catchings is taking time to work alongside collegiate basketball players and the Allstate WBCA Good Works Team to give back to the community. Catchings has her own charity, Catch the Stars, which works with youth in goal-setting programs that revolve around fitness, literacy and mentoring. The Allstate Good Works Team has been in place for four years.
This year, Catchings and her team are teaming up with the Kay Yow Cancer Foundation to decorate and hand out care journals and do other art activities to cancer patients.
“It’s always focused on giving back,” Catchings said. “We go through what these young ladies have done in their respective collegiate cities, hometowns and across the world. We always try to make sure when they come to Final Four that we’re doing something to serve those in the communities.”
For the Final Four itself, Catchings is most surprised by the three teams in the tournament that are making their appearance for the first time in Washington, Oregon State and Syracuse.
“A lot of teams and a lot of players don’t get that opportunity,” Catchings said. “The surprise is for them to be able to be here and we’re used to seeing teams here year after year. I think it’s a great mix-up.”
During her collegiate days, Catchings played for Tennessee from 1997-2001 and won the 1998 national championship. This year, Tennessee managed to get as far as the Elite Eight, knocking out No. 2 seed Arizona State and No. 3 seed Ohio State along the way. As a Lady Vol alum, Catchings said she’s proud they “picked it up, made a great tournament run and played the way we all know they can play.”
Following the championship game, the 2016 WNBA Draft will be held April 14. The Fever have the ninth overall pick to start. For a team that advanced all the way to the championships last year, Catchings hopes that the Fever will gain hard workers in the draft.
“I’d like to see, from a personal standpoint, is just a player that comes in and works hard that we can develop,” Catchings said.
Catchings announced at the end of the 2015 season that the 2016 season would be her last in the WNBA. While the goal of the 12 teams in the WNBA is to win a championship, Catchings’ goal is to have fun and make sure that she leaves everything on the court because it’s her final season while preparing her team for the years to come.
“I just want to make sure I leave them in a better position for being successful,” Catchings said. “It’s just mentoring them as much as I can this year so they’re in a better spot next year.”
Following basketball, Catchings doesn’t really know what she’ll do after she’s taken to the court for a final time, but she does know whatever she does down the road it’ll have to do with helping people because that’s what she’s passionate about.
Catchings and the Fever start their season May 14 when they host the Dallas Wings.