Teammates: From Russia To Indy

May 8, 2006
Linda Frohlich and Tamika Catchings were among a crop of Fever players who spent their offseason playing overseas. And Frohlich and Catchings spent that time together – as teammates playing in Russia. Now, the pair finds themselves back on the hardwood together, this time as teammates with the Fever. Frohlich, a native of Hamburg, Germany, re-joins the WNBA after a two-year absence, while Catchings continues to shine as one of the league’s top players. Recently Frohlich sat down with’s Rachel Turner to give a little insight on Catchings the player, teammate and even roommate. Had you met Tamika before playing with her in Russia?
Linda Frohlich: “No, but I saw her one time and she trampled me in one of our games.”
FB: Did you ever play against Tamika in college?
LF: “I never did because Tennessee played at a little higher level than UNLV.”
FB: Do you like having Tamika as a teammate?
LF: “Absolutely. I’m really excited not only as a basketball player but especially as a person.”
FB: What do you like best about Tamika as a teammate?
LF: “Despite her level of playing, I would say her intensity and her greatness in the game. She is very down-to-earth and she treats everybody the same. I think that is an extremely nice thing to have in a teammate. Yes there are go-to players on each team, but I think with players like her it is nice to mold a team around them. Yes, it is going to be Tamika and the Fever, but she makes everybody feel like it’s the Fever.”
FB: Is there a worst part about her?
LF: “She eats a lot of ice cream and always tempts me with it. She says it is healthy, and I’m like ‘not on my body.’ That’s the worst thing about her honestly. She’ll be like, ‘Linda, why don’t you come over?’ And I know that when I come over there’s going to be cookies and stuff. I’m like, ‘Sorry, no.’ That is the worst thing, she can eat like a…in Germany we say horse.”
FB: We hear Tamika has a Blackberry and she is on it all the time. Do you have one?
LF: “No I don’t, but that’s one thing that when I am around her I say, ‘Put your little friend to the side while we’re talking.’ And she does, but it’s probably because of the time difference. When we were in Russia, all her friends were sleeping while we were awake. So I know of ‘Mr. Blackberry’ and so far it hasn’t been a problem. I have to see now that we’re in America because we’re in the same time zone.”
FB: How did Tamika deal with the language barrier?
LF: “Tamika is very good with non-verbal communication. Like her smile. For example in Europe, you have to speak nonverbally and just her persona and everything made it easy for her to have people like her and for her to get her point across. If you don’t have a friendly face, people are likely not willing to help you.”
FB: Speaking of language, when you have people from all over playing together, is the language barrier difficult?
LF: “Absolutely. It’s funny, the last practice of the season after seven months of being together we were like, ‘What word do we want to agree on to say a screen is coming?’ That’s a thing that should be determined the first day. It’s (English) not the first language of the Russians so it is sometimes hard for them to adjust to the Americans as the foreigners. And then for us, when we play together, I’m going to tell Tamika ‘screen’ but then you have to switch over. It’s like extra stress on your brain at that point and it definitely leads to some miscommunication.”
FB: What was Tamika’s favorite food in Russia?
LF: “McDonald’s. We always laugh, nobody thinks much of it in America but over there its like, ‘Oh the golden M, lets go there!’ I think she actually discovered cucumbers in Russia. She’s not very open for new foods but she discovered cucumbers and I think for the first time in her life she ate tomatoes. She had to go to Russia to do this.”
FB: How did you spend your free time in Russia?
LF: “Watched DVD’s. See, in Russia it is completely different from other countries. I played in Italy before and after practice you would go downtown and have a cappuccino. It was more social. In Russia, after practice sometimes we would just have one practice and afterwards we would just go home and stay home all day. We had drivers and in a way you didn’t want the driver to be around the whole time. We all lived far away from each other so most of the time was alone time.”
FB: Wasn’t that lonely?
LF: “It sure was. For me it was a very difficult, but you get used to it. After awhile you’re like, ‘I’ve been around people way too long. I’ve had two hours with physical contact.’ But I’m happy to be around people again. We, especially the foreigners, couldn’t really communicate a lot with the Russians. We did a lot just staying later and talking after practice. But everyone would go their own way really.”
FB: Did you and Tamika hang out a lot over there?
LF: “We did. We lived together for a moment too. That was fun. She had a big house and we lived in there together. Normally, if you have an apartment it’s kind of tough to share with somebody but in a big house everybody had their rooms. We would have Bible Study together and that’s actually how we got to know each other very well.”