Leslie Assists Indiana Fever Event

May 11, 2006: Students from local Indianapolis schools were told to “dream big” during “Choices for Champions,” a question-and-answer session presented before the Indiana Fever’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Sparks. Anthony Calhoun, sports anchor from Indianapolis’ WISH-TV (channel 8), spoke to the Fever’s Tamika Catchings and Lisa Leslie from the Los Angeles Sparks.

Two of the most highly-recognized women’s basketball players in the world, Catchings and Leslie played together on the United States’ 2004 Olympic Team, where they won the gold medal. The two also were teammates again in 2006, when they played overseas in Russia.

Calhoun stressed the importance of education during the session and encouraged students to succeed in school. “When you work hard in school you can do anything you want to do,” Calhoun said.

Catchings explained that both of her parents were very supportive of her when it came to sports but her school work had to come first. “I would come home and do my homework and then go outside and play basketball until the lights went out,” she said.

Leslie stated, “School work is very essential,” and she gave the audience a tip on how to be successful, not only in school, but in life as well. She added, “Write down your short-term and long-term goals. I didn’t get very good grades in school, but my senior year I wrote down a short-term goal of raising my GPA to 3.5. I worked very hard, and when I graduated I reached that goal,” she said.

Catchings agreed that setting goals is vital to becoming successful. “When I was in 7th grade, my goal was to play professional basketball. After watching Lisa play in her first Olympics, I realized my goal was reachable.”

“Playing sports prepares you for life. Playing basketball helped me with my self-esteem. You learn to communicate, and I think it breaks racial barriers too,” Leslie said. She encouraged the audience to do any extra-curricular activity, “not just basketball.”

“We are two really driven players,” Leslie said of herself and Catchings. Calhoun added that Leslie and Catchings aren’t just two of the best players in the WNBA – but they are “two of the best players in basketball, period.”