I recently got the chance to catch up with Indiana Fever guard and WNBA Championship winner Tamika Catchings. The University of Tennessee alum was still riding on cloud nine after winning her first WNBA title over the Minnesota Lynx last week. Catchings was drafted third overall by the Indiana Fever in 2001. Since her arrival in the league, Tamika has been a trailblazer. She has earned three USA Olympic Gold Medals and by fan vote, she is one of the Top 15 “Elite” players in the league. Now as the Finals MVP, she has lead her team and the city of Indianapolis to a WNBA Title. Here is what Tamika had to say about her team, the win and her future:
Q: What made the difference in these finals for the Fever?
Tamika: Well the defense really stepped it up with rebounding and having the bench step up big in the absence of (guard) Katie Douglass.
Q: How did Coach Dunn push the team to a title win this season?
Tamika: Coach did a good job of resting us and just playing good Indiana basketball.
Q: How was it working with Assistant Coach, Mickie DeMoss again? (DeMoss spent 20 seasons as an assistant and associate coach at Tennessee under Pat Summitt.)
Tamika: (Laughs) It’s always entertaining to work with Mickie. She came in and said, “Eleven years here and you guys haven’t won a title; I’m here a few weeks and you’re WNBA Champions.”
Q: How did it feel to have Pat Summitt there to watch you win your first title?
Tamika: It meant a lot to have Coach Summitt there for that win. She is always there for me in hard times. I can just remember calling her crying and her encouraging me.
Q: How did winning in the Olympics affect you as a leader this season?
Tamika: After the Olympics, everybody got better. I was more energized from being one of the leaders of the Olympic team. This summer I joked around saying I would win the Gold in London then come back and win a WNBA title.
Q: What will you remember from this season?
Tamika: The team genuinely liked and loved each other. We just had a good time. The level of respect and friendship will forever be remembered. This was the best summer ever and a special year.
Q: How many more titles do you plan to win with the Fever?
Tamika: Every year we come in saying this is the year to win. I want to win as many titles as possible.
Q: What will you do during the off-season?
Tamika: I leave Tuesday to play for China in the South until February. I’ll be back for a short time in December for my basketball clinic.
Q: How much longer do you want to go through play offs and finals?
Tamika: I haven’t really thought about retirement. As long as I’m able to play at the level I’m playing at. I feel good physically and mentally.
Q: After this victory, what advice would you give young girls and women to reach their goals?
Tamika: Focus on your goals. It’s a lot of hard work, commitment and sacrifice but it’s worth it in the end.
Catchings is heavily involved in service work in the Indianapolis community, making herself a household name around the city. She has devoted work off the court to empowering young girls through her Catch the Stars Foundation. The goal of the organization is to provide youth with organized programs geared toward motivating them to set goals, dream bigger and achieve more. For more information about her foundation visit Catch the Stars.
Follow Tamika on twitter @Catchin24