Ever since Tamika Catchings was a little girl she dreamed of starting her own basketball camp. Her father, Harvey, played in the NBA and instilled in his children at an early age the importance of giving back to the community.
Catchings recalls attending many basketball camps and community events with her dad.
Thanks to lots of hard work and dedication, Catchings’ dream has come true. Catch the Stars Foundation Inc., is a non-profit organization started by Catchings, a star forward on the WNBA Indiana Fever.
The foundation offers at-risk youth in the Indianapolis metropolitan area an opportunity to achieve their dreams through sports related and academic programming. The programs stress the importance of reading, study skills, organizational skills, goal setting, healthy living and sportsmanship through mentoring, fitness clinics and basketball camps.
“Everybody is really excited,” said Catchings. “Our biggest challenge is getting everything done. I love that there is no paid staff. We have 60 to 65 volunteers and are always looking for more volunteers. Our foundation is very family-orientated, you fit in immediately and everyone is excited to be giving back and that’s what makes our organization unique and fun.”
Always the consummate team player, the Texas native has no problem teaming up with other community partners to assist in giving back. The foundation will team up with Black Expo on Kids Day for a basketball camp.
During the Back to School Jam, the foundation donates backpacks full of school supplies to children along with numerous other community partners.
The 28-year-old hasn’t had to look far for volunteers. Her sister, Tauja Catchings, handles the day-to-day operations of the foundation. In addition, Fever teammates and coaches have also volunteered at different Catch the Stars events.
“We (The Fever) help her out as much as we can,” explained Roberta Courtright, community relations and special projects manager for the Indiana Fever and a Catch the Stars Foundation volunteer.
Courtright said, “Tamika has one of the best player foundations in the WNBA and the NBA. She’s very well organized and the unique thing about her is that she’s genuine. She’s out in the community getting to know the youth personally among many other things. When she sees youth on the street she knows their names and which programs they participate in.”
According to Catchings, statistics show most young women who go into sports at a young age don’t get pregnant early or involved in drugs. Getting youth involved in sports is a chance to teach the importance of being a team player, getting good grades and going to college and the importance of having a good attitude whether one wins or loses.
Although she is single with no children that doesn’t mean Catchings isn’t loved by her loyal, young fans. She is greatly missed on the court by teammates and followers while continuing rehabilitation and is looking forward to returning to the game as soon as possible.
In the meantime, the avid poetry writer and admitted shower singer, wants to grow the foundation and have additional branches in Texas and Chicago sometime in the near future.
“The kids never wanna go home,” said Catchings. “I assume that’s a good thing (jokingly). That keeps us motivated to do more. The biggest thing is being able to make a difference.”
She said, “I want the kids to take away that there is a positive influence in their lives that only wants the best for them and to help them achieve their dreams. To be able to make an impact is the most gratifying reward.”