WNBA Finals Dribble to Stop Diabetes

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By Manny Randhawa

For Tamika Catchings, diabetes is personal.

“One of my little nephews, he actually has diabetes – type two –  and one of my aunts and my great grandmother had diabetes,” Catchings explained as she helped host the Indiana Fever’s Dribble to Stop Diabetes event at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon.

The event, which is part of a national, joint initiative by the WNBA and the NBA to increase diabetes awareness and educate fans about diabetes prevention through health and wellness, included a basketball clinic for children in which Catchings and teammates Erin Phillips, Erlana Larkin, Briann January, and Shavonte Zellous participated, walking-though skills drills with the kids in attendance.

Catchings is one of the national ambassadors of the Dribble to Stop Diabetes program, and WNBA President Laurel Richie is thrilled to have her in that role. “She’s just an amazing player and contributor and leader of her team,” Richie said of the Fever’s star forward.  “And on top of that there’s all the stuff Tamika does when she’s off the court, both for us with WNBA Fit Clinics and the stuff that she does on her own. She’s a great ambassador for the game of basketball, for the WNBA, and for the Indiana Fever.”

In her role as ambassador, Catchings underscores just how important it is to educate children at a young age about staying fit and avoiding choices that could lead to health complications such as diabetes down the road. “Being able to get in early and being able to have an impact on these kids, especially at an early age, I feel is really important,” she said.

 Catchings and her Fever teammates took time to participate in the event despite being in the middle of the WNBA Finals, with a chance to win Indiana’s first WNBA title with a win Sunday night. She explained that with the importance of Dribble to Stop Diabetes, the decision to participate Saturday was a no-brainer: “I think sometimes when you step back and you put focus on why we’re here and where we came from –we all started as little girls dreaming about being basketball stars – I think coming out here after practice and having the opportunity to spend time with these kids is really important. It puts perspective on things.”

On what she hopes the initiative will accomplish, Catchings says she wants to see kids today make better choices than she did at their age. “I wasn’t eating healthy when I was younger,” she said with a smile, “but if I knew then what I know now, I probably would’ve tried to do a better job.”

She’s doing a good job now, both on the court, and in a much more important arena, off of it, playing an important part in the fight against diabetes.