WNBA Superstar Tamika Catchings and Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy to Receive 2007 Chase Major Taylor Award

INDIANAPOLIS – Tamika Catchings, Olympic gold medalist and All-WNBA performer for the Indiana Fever, and Tony Dungy, head coach of the Super Bowl XLI Champion Indianapolis Colts, have been chosen by the Coca-Cola Circle City Classic to receive the 2007 Chase Major Taylor Award.

The Major Taylor Award, named in honor of prominent Indianapolis cyclist Marshall “Major” Taylor, is a tribute to African-American athletes, coaches, athletic administrators and officials who have made significant local and national contributions to youth while encouraging excellence in future generations.

Previous recipients of the Major Taylor Award include boxing great Muhammad Ali, Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee and legendary Grambling head coach Eddie Robinson.

“We are extremely happy to recognize the efforts of both Coach Dungy and Tamika with the Major Taylor Award, the first time we have selected a male and female winner in the same year,” said James Perkins, chair of the Major Taylor Award committee. “We thought this was appropriate to do at this time because both are richly deserving of this honor. We could not have found better representatives, especially these two who serve our central Indiana community so well.”

"I am extremely honored to be receiving the Major Taylor Award, especially alongside Mr. Tony Dungy,” said Catchings. “I know there were quite a few great nominees besides me so I truly appreciate the opportunity to stand as a representative of my family, the Catch the Stars Foundation and the Indiana Fever."

“I am very honored to receive the Major Taylor Award,” said Dungy. “Obviously, getting an award with Tamika Catchings is something that I’ll cherish. I know how much Tamika does for our community and just to be put in that same category is quite an honor.”

Catchings and Dungy will be recognized during halftime of the 24th Annual Coca-Cola Circle City Classic (Saturday, Oct. 6.; Florida A&M University vs. Winston-Salem State University). Catchings will also be honored during the Indianapolis Colts Classic Coaches Luncheon, which will take place Friday, Oct. 5, Noon-1:30 p.m. at the Indiana Convention Center’s Sagamore Ballroom. This event also features the head coaches of Florida A&M University, Rubin Carter, and Winston-Salem State University, Kermit Blount.

In 2002, Catchings joined the Indiana Fever and was named the 2002 WNBA Rookie of the Year. Later that year, Catchings was runner-up in voting for the league’s MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. She also became the first Fever player to be named to the All-WNBA First Team.

Often known as Indiana’s “do-everything” forward, Catchings led her team in points, rebounds, assists, and steals in each of her first five pro seasons. Named the WNBA’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2005 and 2006, she has asserted herself as one of the world’s premier players. She is the franchise’s first 2,000-point scorer. Catchings is a five-time WNBA All-Star and the only player in WNBA history to finish in the league’s top 10 in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks in the same season.

While playing for The University of Tennessee from 1997-2001, Catchings was a Kodak All-American recipient for four consecutive seasons, becoming only one of four women to ever obtain this honor. She became just the second member of the Lady Vols to score 2,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds. She finished her college career ranked third in the school’s history in points (2,113) and rebounds (1,004). Catchings graduated with honors with a degree in sport management.

In addition to her work on the court, Catchings has worked diligently to provide opportunity to youth. Catchings launched the Catch the Stars Foundation, Inc. in December 2004 to assist disadvantaged youth. She annually conducts fitness clinics and basketball camps in areas surrounding Indianapolis; Dallas, Texas; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Chicago. Catchings has also been an annual participant and sponsor of the Indiana Pacers’ annual Thanksgiving Dinner to feed the area’s less fortunate.

Current programs for her foundation include the Catch the Fever Youth Holiday Basketball camp, Catch on to Fitness Clinics, Catchings Corner, and S.T.A.R.S. (Sisters Teaching and Reaching Sisters).

In 2004, she was invited to President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address, and was named as a finalist for the 2006 Wooden Citizen Cup, presented annually to the nation’s top professional athlete who exhibits outstanding community service. In 2000, Catchings was honored with the Reynolds Society Achievement Award by the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston. The award is given annually to an individual who has overcome hearing, vision or voice loss. Catchings was born with a hearing disability and wore a hearing aid as a young girl. Catchings is the current president of the WNBA Players Association.

Dungy, one of the most respected and popular NFL coaches, led the Colts to a Super Bowl title in February.

Dungy enters his sixth season with the Colts. He has directed the Colts to a 60-20 regular-season record, five playoff appearances, four AFC South titles, two AFC Championship game appearances and to a 29-17 victory over Chicago in Super Bowl XLI.

Dungy’s coaching excellence is illustrated by his career regular-season record of 114-62 and his overall mark of 123-70. Dungy became the 35th coach in NFL history to earn 100 career victories with a 38-20 win at Houston on October 23, 2005. Dungy, along with Mike Ditka and Tom Flores, is one of only three individuals to win the Super Bowl as both a player and head coach. Dungy was a defensive back for the Pittsburgh Steelers when the team won Super Bowl XIII.

After playing in the NFL for two seasons (Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers), Dungy returned to his alma mater, the University of Minnesota, to begin his coaching career. Dungy played for the Gophers from 1973-1976. He served as the defensive backs coach for one season before transitioning to the NFL. In 1981, Dungy became a Defensive Assistant Coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. By 1996, Dungy had worked his way into the head coaching position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On January 22, 2002, after serving six seasons with Tampa Bay and becoming the most successful head coach in the team history, Dungy became the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

Though his NFL career should be commended, his work with community youth is even more impressive. Dungy helped implement a local Basket of Hope program that benefits Riley Hospital for Children. He teamed with others in assisting All-Pro Dad, a family-based organization, and he was a spokesman for Arby’s Combo to benefit Big Brothers/ Big Sisters and the Boys and Girls Club. Dungy’s reach includes works and appearances with the Black Coaches Administrators National Convention and Indiana Black Expo. He participates frequently in speaking appearances at area faith-based events and family football clinics. Indiana Black Expo and Indiana Sports Corporation honored him with the Indiana Pathfinder Award in 2006 as part of Youthlinks Indiana.

In August, 2007, President Bush appointed Dungy to the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation for a two-year term.

Past recipients of the Major Taylor Award are: Ray Crowe (1987), James Perkins (1988), Anita DeFrantz (1989), Eddie Robinson (1990), Bill Brooks (1991), Dr. LeRoy Walker (1992), Clarence “Big House” Gaines (1993), Florence Griffith Joyner (1994), Mel Blount (1995), Reggie Williams (1996), Doug Williams (1997), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1998), Carolyn Peck (1999), Earl Woods (2000), Daniel Boggan, Jr. (2001), Mike Davis (2002), Muhammad Ali and Rev. Charles Williams (2003), George McGinnis (2004), Dominique Dawes (2005), and Shani Davis (2006).

American Family Insurance Classic Weekend Featuring the 24th Coca-Cola Circle City Classic

The 24th Coca-Cola Circle City Classic is slated for 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6 in the RCA Dome, featuring the match-up of historically black college and university (HBCU) football powers Florida A&M University and Winston-Salem State University. Tickets are available through the Circle City Classic office, RCA Dome ticket office and all Ticketmaster outlets. Tickets range from $10 to $40.