WNBA Heroes in the Community
Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever

Perhaps the best all-around player in the WNBA, Fever forward Tamika Catchings is an even better all-around person whose heart is as big as her game.

Since graduating from the University of Tennessee in 2001, Catchings has won an Olympic Gold Medal, garnered numerous All-WNBA selections and was the 2005 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year. She is also the all-time Fever record holder in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. But it is her Catch The Stars Foundation that has made her an All-Star in the Indianapolis area.

For more information about the Catch the Stars Foundation, check out Catchin24.com.
Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images

The Catch The Stars Foundation aims to motivate at-risk, disadvantaged and underprivileged youth between the ages of 9- 16 in the metropolitan Indianapolis area to achieve their dreams and goals by providing positive academic and sports related programs. These programs encourage fundamentals, including reading, study skills, organization, goal setting and sportsmanship, as well as leading healthier lifestyles through mentoring, basketball camps and fitness clinics.

Catchings created the Catch the Stars Foundation Inc. in the spring of 2004. Catchings felt compelled to start the foundation because she understands that the youth of today are the stars of tomorrow and the lack of support for our youth results in many never reaching their full potential. The Catch the Stars Foundation provides these youth with organized programs geared toward motivating them to set goals, dream bigger and achieve more. The foundation is preparing our youth to catch their dreams one star at a time.

"It has always been a dream of mine to encourage youth to reach for the Stars," Catchings said. "Growing up, I was blessed to have a great family. I had a lot of issues that I had to deal with growing up, such as being different, wearing glasses and hearing aids, being a tomboy and having a speech problem. I want kids to know that being different is a great thing! There are no two people in the world that are exactly alike in every way! God made us all individually unique. We need to grasp that, and help our youth understand that to allow them an opportunity to embrace who they are early on in life."

Catchings is involved in both the public side of the organization as well as the behind-the-scenes and day-to-day management. She is assisted by her sister and former WNBA draft pick Tauja Catchings as well as several volunteers here in the Indy area.

"We've got the best volunteer team," Catchings said.

That volunteer team coordinates a number of special events and activities, including S.T.A.R.S., an eight-week mentoring program, Catch on to Fitness clinics, Catch the Stars basketball camps, catchin24.com night, IPS Scholar-Athlete Program, Catchings Corner and a Basketball Clinic in conjunction with Indiana Black Expo's Children's Day. She has been running the Catch the Stars Basketball Camp (previously known as the Catch the Fever Basketball Camp), and the Catch on to Fitness Clinics for five and four years respectively. They were granted the 501c 3 status in October 2004.

"I think it is very important for ALL of us to give back in any capacity that we can," she said. "A lot of times people get mixed up with thinking that only 'celebrities' will be able to make an impact, and give back to the communities. My volunteer team is AWESOME, and they are all celebrities in my eyes! I feel that the Lord has blessed each one of us, and we have to turn around and be able to pour blessings on those who are less fortunate!"

Of course, she did not have to look too far for heroes. For some, it was a teacher or a social worker, a coach or a counselor. But for Catchings, it was her family.

"My heroes were my parents. But, in particular my Dad early on. Because he was still playing in the early stages of the NBA, they were required to do some community related events. Sometimes my Mom and Dad would take the three of us to the events, and we would be able to, in a way, help others out. It was a great experience for all of us, but I knew from a young age that if I ever got the opportunity to make a difference in someone else's life, I WOULD!"

Upcoming events:
July 10th- Catch the Stars Basketball Clinic- in conjunction with the Black Expo
July 22nd- Catchin24.com Night at Conseco Fieldhouse
November 11th- Catch on to Fitness Clinic at Riverside Family Center
December 27th-29th- Catch the Stars Basketball Camp at Warren Central High School