Saturday, it was announced that former Lady Vol Tamika Catchings earned induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as part of its 2020 class. Catchings, is currently the general manager of the Indiana Fever after a 15-year career with the team, and is the second member associated with the Lady Vols program to earn induction after legendary head coach Pat Summitt.
Catchings was both national champion in college and WNBA champion in the pros, as well as winning four gold medals for the USA. On Sunday, she spoke to members of the Indiana, Tennessee and national media. Here are some the highlights.
Catchings’ opening statement regarding her induction
“Super excited, obviously. Yesterday was a whirlwind with everything happening. I woke up sweating and nervous, even though I knew the news on Friday. But still, it was kind of surreal. Really excited just about the opportunity to be a part of this class and to be inducted with this class. It’s truly an honor. I’m blessed; I’m excited. There’s just so many feelings that go through my mind. But I think one the big things…when you think about being a little girl, I never really imagined that this would be something I would be able to achieve,” Catchings stated. “But a lot of it was just because I didn’t really know what the Naismith Hall of Fame was and my goal was to be like my father and play basketball (professionally) … and before (the WNBA) having the opportunity to go to the University of Tennessee and play underneath the best coach ever, Pat Summitt and some of the great-greats who have played at the University of Tennessee. Truly, just an honor … I’m blessed.”
Her expectations versus the reality of being inducted into the NMBHoF
“I did not expect it. Obviously, the announcement for the finalists came out in December and just being able to be a part of that and being one of those nominees is great. … The last couple of mouths it just kind of been ‘Alright, looking forward to the Final Four … and then I got the call on Friday. I was driving, because I just had to get outside. I didn’t get out of my car; I was just driving around. They said 3 (p.m.) to 5 (p.m.) I would find out. And so, I was like they’re gonna call at 4:55 (p.m.), I need to get all of this angst out. And then she called, it was probably 3:15 (p.m.) … I started to scream and take my hands off and then I said ‘Oh shoot! I’m driving,”Catchings is quoted as saying.
Her greatest accomplishment
“You know, my greatest accomplishment honestly doesn’t have to do with basketball. I would say my greatest accomplishment would be the Catch the Stars Foundation and being able to impact so many people. One thing you find out and one thing I’ve found out in the time being off the court is a lot of these kids, they have had the opportunity to watch me play. So what we have done through the foundation ,and the kids we have impacted, we always talk about ‘paying it forward’, those are the kids who because of the foundation, because of the platform basketball gave me, and the platform that my faith and God have given me, has given me a platform has allowed me to reach even more kids,” Catchings discussed.
How her time at Tennessee prepared her for post-graduation life
“My time in Knoxville was huge...that first year was hard, just really trying to figure out if this was the right decision for me, being this far away from my home and for a moment I was almost like ‘Alright, come pick me up.’ But, I think the things I learned about myself, things I learned about just being in an elite program helped me,” Catchings stated. “I think I’ve always worked hard, but seeing Chamique (Holdsclaw) work hard, seeing Kellie Jolly work hard, Kellie Harper now, seeing the way they worked, knowing the history … I just learned a different style in terms of work ethic and working with elite athletes like that … and then you factor in everything else we had to do (off the court).”
Her advice for current Lady Vols players
“The reality is, not everyone makes to the WNBA and more so, not everyone wants to be in the WNBA, so the advice I really push to focus on is while you are in college, take advantage of the resources you have. Cause when you leave, no matter where you go, it’s so different than college. And I’m a true testament to this, because when you go through college I asked myself this question, ‘Out of the whole week seven days, how much time do you have where you actually have to make a decision for yourself?’ And, let’s look at one day, ‘how much time in a day do have decisions you make for yourself?’ So I think really being able to take advantage of the opportunities, the people who want to help you as players and the people who want to help you as what you’re getting your degree in, is something that is very valuable.