Camp Update: All About The Shoes

April 29, 2007
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    Baseball anyone? As temperatures rose to 79 degrees on Sunday, with sun shining brilliantly, the Fever added its ninth player to training camp.

    Tracking through the infield dirt and outfield grass will have to wait another day, though, as footwork on the hardwood has begun to pick up. Besides the sun-shiny weather, Sunday marked the Fever return of Olympic gold medalist, WNBA All-Star and two-time Defensive Player of the Year Tamika Catchings.

    Beyond Catchings, it is about the time for players to begin arriving from overseas one-by-one over the next two weeks. With Tully Bevilaqua, Kasha Terry and Catchings now in camp, the Fever staff is anticipating the arrival of K.B. Sharp and Ebony Hoffman within the next week, as well. Sharp’s team has been eliminated from competition in the French league, while Hoffman’s TEO Vilnius (Lithuania) squad has wrapped up its pair of titles in the Lithuanian league and Baltic regional championships.

    What’s new with Catchings, you ask? She attended Easter Sunday services in the Vatican about a month ago, and her hectic travel and appointment schedule continues, even through training camp. What’s more, her activities with the Catch The Stars Foundation have continued to increase locally and regionally – including plans for a new website.

    On the floor, she will join the rest of the WNBA in sporting new uniforms in 2007 – which the league and Fever will unveil on Tuesday. Personally, Catchings will also sport a new design on her Nike shoes!

    “This year I wanted to add some color,” she said of her new pair, fresh out of a box for Sunday’s practice. “I wanted to make them exciting, the same color as the uniforms, but using more of the gold to make them pop a little bit. There’s a lot of red, too, to go with our uniforms, and some blue trim.”

    Catchings, like the dozen or so other Nike-endorsed athletes in the WNBA, is afforded two-to-three new shoe designs each season. She also receives new kicks each year for play with USA Basketball. Nearly all of the members of the U.S. National Team have similar contracts.

    “Every year they ask the Nike players what we want different on our shoes. Mine always have ‘Catch 24’ on them – in case they ever get mixed up with the rest of the shoes on the team!,” she says with a laugh and a friendly grin.

    While she doesn’t carry her own brand of shoe – hers are a pre-existing brand, designed to her personal specifications – she does have the chance to order her favorite model. “The one good thing about mine,” she added, again with the grin, “is they’re really light. Light shoes make you go faster! And jump higher!”

    So what does she do with them all, when she changes from one design to the next?

    “I probably have about 18 different designs, counting six seasons in the WNBA, plus my shoes with USA Basketball. I have them at home, a lot of them I auction off for my Foundation. Sometimes I give them to fans – we actually have a waiting list!”

    For Catchings, it’s all about the shoes! Basketball shoes, that is. With temperatures rising and sun shining, the Girls of Summer are preparing to jump into the new season!