Indiana to retire Tamika Catchings' jersey on Saturday
Tamika Catchings is busier now in retirement then during her stellar 15-year career with the Indiana Fever.
There's her new tea shop to run, her foundation and front office role with Pacers Sports Entertainment.
''When you play, it's like groundhog day,'' Catchings said in a phone interview this week. ''It's the same thing over and over. Whereas now each day brings something different.''
Catchings will receive one more honor from the Fever on Saturday when the team retires her No. 24 jersey. Former Fever coaches Stephanie White and Lin Dunn will be there along with family members.
''It's going to be a really special and emotional day,'' Catchings said. ''I don't know how you prepare yourself for it. You think about all the years that have gone into this and getting ready for this, getting ready for that next phase of your life. We made it this far. This is the grand finale.''
She appeared in 10 All-Star Games, won four Olympic gold medals, a WNBA title in 2012 and five defensive player of the year awards. Catchings was the heart and soul of the franchise since she was drafted by Indiana. She'll join a handful of jerseys that have been retired around the league when her No. 24 is put into the rafters.
She's glad the Los Angeles Sparks will be in town and fellow Tennessee alumni Candace Parker will be there. Catchings will miss think of her late Tennessee coach Pat Summitt. She's grateful Summitt saw her win her lone WNBA title.
''I'm not into individual accolades,'' Catchings said. ''She was there for the most important thing with the WNBA and the Fever and that was winning a championship. I have pictures and memories from that and it's awesome. It supersedes everything else.''
There are festivities surrounding Saturday's event, with a block party near the arena with local restaurants. She'll also host a basketball clinic.
This will be one last chance for Fever fans to honor Catchings' legacy. That is until she's most likely enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in a few years.
''We are elevating a legend. Giving her iconic status,'' WNBA President Lisa Borders said. ''Catch is the perfect person for little girls and boys to look up to not just as an athlete, but as a human being. We know how much work Catch did on the court but did just as much off the court with Catch the Stars Foundation.''
The foundation has helped over 20,000 kids and gives college scholarships each year. In the past it would just be a one-year scholarship, but when she saw the dropout rate after freshmen year, Catchings decided to make it a renewable scholarship so the student would have enough money to go for four years.
''We want them to succeed, and I met with my financial adviser to see what I more I could give,'' she said. ''Basically, I matched the scholarship.''
After the festive weekend, Catchings will be easy to find at Tea's Me Cafe or on the road conducting the second half of the Legacy Tour she started last season. She'll be giving basketball clinics in every WNBA city.
''I wake up every day with a new challenge, and I love it,'' Catchings said.
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