Female Athlete Spotlight: Tamika Catchings

By Joshua Schnitman

The WNBA has seen very few players (if any) as versatile as Tamika Catchings, who will soon be enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball of Fame. Catchings is part of the star-studded 2020 class, also highlighted by NBA greats, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett. During her final of 15 seasons repping the No. 24 for the Indiana Fever in 2016, Catchings was named to the WNBA’s Top 20@20 team — the voted-upon 20 greatest players in WNBA history in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the league’s existence.

The daughter of Harvey Catchings, who played 11 seasons in the NBA for four different teams, Catchings emerged as one of the most incredible women’s high school basketball players ever witnessed. As a senior at Duncanville High School in Duncanville, Texas, Catchings became the first basketball player (of any gender and at any level) to record an officially-kept-track-of quintuple-double performance — 25 points, 18 rebounds, 11 assists, 10 steals, and 10 blocks, in the process of leading her undefeated state championship team. After her extraordinary high school career, Catchings would dominate at the collegiate level, leading the undefeated University of Tennessee team to the NCAA title in her freshman year, while being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. She would continue her excellence as the recurring All-American and award-winning phenom throughout her remaining three years at Tennessee. 

The Indiana Fever selected Catchings no. 3 overall in the 2001 WNBA Draft. After being forced to sit out the entire 2001 season due to injury, her 2002 Rookie of the Year season would mark her first of 10 WNBA All-Star game selections and first of seven All-WNBA First Team selections. Catchings, a tremendous scorer (inside and outside) and considered by many to be the greatest WNBA defensive player of all-time, captured the league MVP award in 201l, as well as a record five Defensive Player of the Year awards throughout her illustrious career (2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, and 2012). In 2012, Catchings led the Fever to their first WNBA championship, while capturing the Finals MVP. To this day, she stands as the WNBA’s All-Time playoff scoring, rebounding, and steals leader. Catchings, who had one of the most remarkable WNBA playing careers of all-time, was also part of four USA Women’s Olympic gold medal-winning teams (2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016). Currently, she is the general manager of the Fever.

Catchings is most known as one of the most philanthropic and socially active sports figures of her generation and she has received countless awards for her community involvement and acts of kindness over the years. She has surely been an exemplary role model both on and off the court to so many basketball fans across the world. 

Tune in to the LOS podcast and hear Tamika discuss her experiences at Tennessee playing under legendary coach, Pat Summitt, her WNBA career, Olympic gold medals, philanthropic causes and her role with Pacers Sports & Entertainment. Listen here.

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