For Tamika Catchings, 2016 will be a year full of lasts.
Her last Olympic Games. Her last season in the WNBA. Her last run for the championship with her longtime team, the Indiana Fever.
But along with all these endings, the year also will bring some exciting firsts. This spring, for one, Catchings will release her first full-length memoir. Written with author Ken Petersen, “Catch a Star: Shining Through Adversity To Become a Champion” tells the basketball star’s story of overcoming obstacles throughout life to achieve success on and off the court.
“Everywhere I go, people are always asking, ‘Do you have a book out?’” Catchings says. “This is kind of a giveback to the people who have followed me and supported me in my career.”
In the book, Catchings opens up about challenges she faced as a child: She suffered from a hearing disability, was painfully shy and was a target for bullies. But everything changed when she stepped onto the basketball court. With the ball in her hands, the talented young girl exuded confidence and grace. “That was my zone,” Catchings recalls. “Nobody could mess with me.”
Catchings, who is the daughter of former NBA player Harvey Catchings, continued to feed her talent and passion for the game. In high school, she became the first person to ever achieve a quintupledouble – 25 points, 18 rebounds, 11 assists, 10 steals and 10 blocks. She went on to play for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, under legendary coach Pat Summitt from 1997 to 2001, which she calls one of the best experiences of her life. She graduated with a degree in sports management, then was selected by the Indiana Fever in the first round of the WNBA draft. Now heading into her 15th and final playing season, Catchings is a three-time Olympic gold medalist for Team USA, a 10-time WNBA All-Star and, off the court, the leader of an Indianapolis foundation dedicated to empowering youth.
Catchings won’t be lingering long on this last chapter of her playing career. She’s ready for what’s next: a future that holds a marriage (this spring), a family and, if all goes well, a general manager position with her name on it. “Lord willing, if my body stays healthy and everything is good, I’ll be able to step away from the game on my own terms,” she says. “It’s just time.”
Though few have followed such an illustrious path in athletics, Catchings believes everyone can relate to pieces of her story. She says of her book: “There’s something in there for anybody.”