BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The United States Basketball Writers Association has named its annual recognition of its women’s national freshman of the year The Tamika Catchings Award. Catchings, vice president of basketball operations for the Indiana Fever of the WNBA, was the consensus national freshman of the year during the 1997-98 season, when the Tennessee Lady Volunteers won a national championship in a 39-0 season.
“You don’t go into the game to gather awards,” Catchings said at SEC Women’s Basketball Media Day. “You go into the game to leave a presence.”
As a Tennessee freshman, Catchings was named to the All-Final Four Team. She set program records for most points with 711 and a 35-point game against DePaul.
When Catchings retired in 2016 after 16 seasons with the Fever, she ranked first in league history in rebounds (3,316), first in steals (1,074), first in free throws (2,004) and second in points (7,380). She was a five-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, and was named to 11 All-Defense teams. Catchings was the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2011 and was the WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player during the Fever championship season of 2012.
Catchings played for the United States on Olympic gold-medal winning teams in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016.
She has a master’s degree in Sports Studies from Tennessee. Her Catch The Stars Foundation helps disadvantaged youth achieve their dreams by promoting fitness, literacy and youth development.
“There is no better example, mentor and role model for gifted freshmen than Tamika,” said Malcolm Moran, USBWA Executive Director and Director of the Sports Capital Journalism Program at IUPUI. “Her commitment to community service and her move into management are also an inspiration for the next generation. She is an ideal choice.”
USBWA Board Member Mel Greenberg said: “While our focus is on the collegiate world in citing all-timers, Tamika’s starring roles as an Olympic gold medalist and in an all-WNBA playing career with the Fever – where she is blazing a trail in the front office – must be noted.”
The Tamika Catchings Award becomes the fourth named award for women’s college basketball by the USBWA. It joins the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award for National Player of the Year, the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award, which was named after Catchings’ Hall of Fame coach at Tennessee, and the Mary Jo Haverbeck Award for service to the USBWA.