*This blog originally ran on SportsBlog.com. To view all of Tamika’s blogs, go to tamikacatchings.sportsblog.com.
Wow… I was so pumped up last night that I literally couldn’t go to sleep! I’m so thankful for and grateful to the Indiana Fever/Pacers Sports & Entertainment for putting together the most amazing and heartwarming retirement celebration. Special thanks to J Moss, Nike, City of Indianapolis, USA Basketball, my teammates (current & former), Pacers players (current & former) and each of you — the fans, for a night to remember!! God truly is SO GOOD!!!
Yesterday I woke up feeling a little sad, but trying to figure out how to make it a somewhat “normal” day. I was super excited to get ready to go to church and be able to share another powerful message from Pastor Ramsey with my family. I must say… now looking back the day started out pretty emotionally at church. A few of my family members walked up to the front wanting to recommit themselves to the Lord. Now, THAT was powerful!!!
Following church, we hit up LePeep’s for breakfast, I went home took a quick nap, iced my knees and then got ready and dressed for the game. On my drive to the gym, I had a moment to reflect and honestly for a second I’ll admit, I got scared about the future. Not necessarily about what I would be doing, but moreso about the unknown. For 16 years as a pro, 4 years in college and 8 years through high school and middle school (28 years total out of my 37 years on earth), I have woken up knowing my next step in playing basketball and having a goal of one day being able to make it pro fulfilled.
Upon arrival at the arena, before I got out of the car I quoted to myself, “Left foot, right foot… breathe.” Pat’s mantra on how to get through any and every thing. I walked through the halls with a big “Thank you Tamika” picture plastered on the wall along with all types of notes from everyone that worked for Pacers Sports & Entertainment — my teammates included : )
Trying to walk around the locker room like it’s just a “normal” day with everyone sporting cool #24Forever shirts isn’t easy, but we all did it. The Dallas Wings team came over and presented me with a Wings jersey signed by all of them. And, as I gave them all hugs reality started to settle in. This. Was. It.
Warm ups were a blur, but as I looked around I spotted so many people that have been a huge part of my life, lined up around the gym. Focus Tamika… Focus!
I had my head down, eyes closed, hand over my heart, preparing for the National Anthem, but listening to the announcers speak. As they announced the person singing the national anthem I heard Tamika’s favorite artist and snapped my head up to my FAVE, J. Moss, at center court. I let out a scream before he started and then had to close my eyes as tears streamed down my face… the magic continues… When he finished I ran to center court, embraced him and started crying LOL. When I finally pulled away, again I reminded myself, “Left foot, right foot… breathe.”
The game was probably one of the best ones we’ve had in a while, and it was good to get back on track & really GEL as a team. We were rocking on all cylinders-it was electric! Looking out at the sea of white #24Forever T-shirts I was continuously thankful for all of the support I’ve received going throughout my entire WNBA career, but especially during my final season. A lot of notables in the crowd from all of my different walks of life here to celebrate my last regular season game with me. What a BLESSING!!!
As I came off the court my final time with 1:33 left in the 4th quarter, it’s almost like time froze as the whole arena erupted and I stood waving constantly mouthing “Thank you, thank you, thank you…” What an amazing send off!!! Walking through the line post game, I embraced every Dallas Wings player wanting to remember this game, wanting to pass on the torch.
Quick change and then back on to the court for the ceremony. : ) I had NO idea what would come next (believe me I’m still pinching myself)!!! Chris Denari, who has announced my Fever games since the beginning started off the night, and then he was followed by an amazing cast including Congresswoman Susan Brooks, Mayor Hogsett, Carol Callan (USA Basketball), Ilene Hauser (Nike), Jim Morris, Kelly Krauskopf, Rick Fuson, Lin Dunn, Stephanie White, Briann January, Lisa Borders & Rachel Simon. Absolutely amazing!!
The gifts I received included a copy of my accomplishments entered into the Congressional record books along with my own personal flag flown the first day of our 2016 season from Brooks, a custom hoodie with some AWESOME lounge chairs (one Fever & one USA Ball) from Ilene, and my USA Basketball jersey framed and lined with all of my USA Ball gold medal team photos from Carol. Kelly Krauskopf presented me with a framed picture of me lined with the words that people have described me as — highlighted by the word Relentless!! Jim Morris presented an awesome captured drawing of me AND a $100,000 check from PS&E to my Catch the Stars Foundation, while Fuson capped the speakers and had a BRAND NEW LEXUS SUV pulled into the building. I couldn’t even believe it. For the first time in my life, I was literally speechless. In shock. Overjoyed with gratitude.
Needless to say, I will NEVER forget last night and all of the people I was able to share the night with. So many memories created in Banker’s Life Fieldhouse and so many memories created in our Indianapolis community!! In my speech I just talked about never even imagining that I would be where I was, but so thankful for what God has blessed me with and for giving me so many amazing people to be in my life to share the memories with. Truly a blessing!!
Lots of pictures, autographs and finally food last night with the fam. Today, I woke up thankful for one of my greatest nights EVER and anxiously awaiting what’s next. But, before that happens… we have a Championship to win!!! So, I need everyone to be in the house on Wednesday as we get back to work and fight forward with one goal in mind — #OperationSHIP (Championship that is… ; )
Until the next time, best wishes and GOD BLESS!