Eddie White sits down with Tamika Catchings after the luncheon.
INDIANAPOLIS – One month before opening the final training camp of her pro career, Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings was honored Tuesday by dignitaries from Pacers Sports & Entertainment, the city of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana. A Legacy Luncheon for team partners and city and state leaders honored Catchings for her 15 seasons as part of the Indiana Fever franchise, and for the indelible mark she has left throughout Central Indiana with her acts of generosity and sportsmanship, and the continued efforts of her 11-year Catch The Stars Foundation which promotes literacy, fitness and mentoring.
The luncheon began with Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett proclaiming “Tamika Catchings Day” throughout the city. Later, Indiana Governor Mike Pence presented Catchings with the state’s Sagamore of the Wabash award, one of the highest honors bestowed by the Governor of Indiana – a personal tribute given to those who have rendered distinguished service to the state. The luncheon was closed by keynote speaker Tony Dungy, former Indianapolis Colts coach and a community advocate with Catchings, who wrote the foreword in her recent autobiography, “Catch A Star.”
“If all we did was win games,” said Dungy, “those feelings would only last a little while. But Tamika impacts people and impacts lives to the ‘Nth’ degree off the court. People remember her for her personal interaction and community inspiration long after her basketball. She is a person of great integrity. She is special.”
The Legacy Luncheon featured a nine-minute biography video narrated by Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts. In addition, numerous video tributes from a collection of WNBA & NBA players, former coaches, legends of the game and longtime Fever fans were shown throughout the luncheon. To view these tributes, visit FeverBasketball.com/24Forever.
Catchings’ legacy will be further cemented during her final WNBA season in 2016. Throughout her final season, Catchings and the Catch The Stars Foundation (CTSF) will conduct a postgame auction and signing event in each of 12 WNBA cities that will include a $2,000 gift to a local charity whose values promote literacy, fitness and mentoring.
Founded in 2004, CTSF began by hosting fitness clinics and basketball camps, but has ballooned to include mentoring programs for boys and girls, a scholarship program for high school student-athletes, and reading corners in area schools.
Catchings’ career has been synonymous with Indiana Fever success on the court, but off the court is where her legacy reaches heights rare among everyday athletes. Last summer, she was the first recipient of ESPN’s Sports Humanitarian of the Year award and frequently she is recognized among America’s most-influential and most-respected citizen athletes. In 2007, she was the first winner of the WNBA’s Dawn Staley Leadership Award, presented annually for community leadership and contribution.
Universally liked by fans, coaches and fellow players, Catchings is a two-time winner of the WNBA’s Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award. She is a former MVP and a three-time Olympic gold medalist with the respect of teammates and opponents at every level of sport – fans, players, coaches, corporate partners and executives.
Drafted in 2001 by the Fever, Catchings was the 2002 WNBA Rookie of the Year and after 14 active seasons, she is the league’s all-time leader in steals and free throws. She is the WNBA’s second-leading scorer and rebounder. The league MVP in 2011, she was the WNBA Finals MVP in 2012. She has been named the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year an unprecedented five times.
Catchings and the Fever own a WNBA-record 11 consecutive playoff appearances, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals in eight of those 11 seasons. The Fever won the WNBA crown in 2012 and also reached the WNBA Finals in 2009 and 2015. Catchings has played in every playoff game in franchise history (67), including its first appearance during her rookie season in 2002. She is the WNBA’s all-time leader in postseason points, rebounds, steals and games played.
Said Fever President and General Manager Kelly Krauskopf, “I am proud that Tamika will have played her entire career in an Indiana Fever uniform. Anyone who has not seen her play in person should do so in the next six months. She is a future Hall of Famer and one of the greatest overall players in the history of the women’s game. Her handprints are all over this franchise. Her impact on and off the court is immeasurable.”