Tamika Catchings is undoubtedly one of the most influential and dominating players in the WNBA. She was selected Defensive Player of The Year in 2005, 2006, and 2009 and has led the Indiana Fever in rebounds, steals, assists, points, and blocks during six seasons of her WNBA career. With all her tremendous success on the court, Catchings would find her calling in the spring 2004 to make a difference in the community of Indianapolis and other cities around the country. Catchings would create the Catch the Stars Foundation that focuses on supporting young people by creating programs that help them reach their goals and to have a good self-esteem about themselves. I spoke with Catchings last week about her foundation and the impact that she has made in the city of Indianapolis.
BJ: With so many negative things that youth are facing today, how has Catch the Stars Foundation helped with eliminating some of those barriers young people face?
TC: I think the one thing that has worked is that our foundation helps kids come out of their shell. Some of the kids that come to some of our programs are shy but once they’ve been around long enough they get really excited about what we do. We also focus on goal setting for some of the kids. I think that the one thing that has always worked is I’ve been an example for the kids.
BJ: I know that during your rookie season you had to sit out due to an injury. How did you overcome a barrier such as a serious injury?
TC: When I was injured my trainer at Tennessee had people come and talk to me about what they went through when they had the same type of injury. When you get hurt it’s very scary, but it really helped to know that there were other people that were able to bounce back from something like this.
BJ: Can you talk about what inspired you to create the Catch Foundation?
TC: I think the inspiration for me comes from knowing that there are so many children out there that need support. I can remember people who came into my life and helped me along the way when I was younger. I wanted to make sure that I gave back like how people gave back to me. I remember getting involved with the Big Brother & Big Sister’s program back in 2003, and my little sister Toneshia Sanders really made a difference in my life. She comes from a family of 7 and she had a hearing problem like I did when I was younger. It was good seeing her grow and go on to college.
BJ: I understand your organization puts a lot of importance on education. What is the response like from the kids who come through your program?
TC: A lot of our students respond very well when we talk to them about education. I think when they actually see athletes talk about it they really seem to listen.
BJ: How can people support your organization?
TC: People can visit our website at www.catchthestars.org to find out more about our organization. We also have opportunities for people to volunteer if they have a passion for making a difference in the lives of young people.