Douglas Leads Indiana To Victory In Fever Debut

May 17, 2008 | by Ericka Sanders

Walt Thomas/PS&E Photo
Welcome home Katie Douglas.

The Indiana Fever needed the homegrown star’s 24 points and seven rebounds to knock off the Washington Mystics 64-53 in its home opener, and Douglas needed to play well to knock off the emotional nerves of her first game in a Fever uniform.

It felt good, she said after the game. “I have been a nervous wreck, a lot of anxiety. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”

After spending her first two professional years with the defunct Orlando Miracle, Douglas perfected her skills during the next five with the Connecticut Sun. However, after spending six years playing in the WNBA and overseas she says she started to feel mentally drained and yearned to be close to home.

She says she started to be vocal with her husband, who is also her agent that she wanted to try and play for Indiana.

“I had the utmost respect for the organization in Connecticut and I was in a great situation where I thrived, but I learned in life that a lot of things you prioritize sometimes get overshadowed and family is always a constant over basketball,” said Douglas. “I thought it was time to find an avenue to get here. I didn’t want to come back when I was 34-years-old and in the downfall of my career. I wanted to come back while I was still in my prime and people could enjoy watching me play.”

Douglas’ 24 points was the most ever scored by a player in her Fever debut, knocking All-Star Tamika Catchings 23 points in 2002 to second place. She did so in front of crowd of 10,533, which included a skybox full of family and friends.

“This is absolutely her dream,” says Douglas’ sister Kim Rastrelli. “I knew she would be ready to play. She was emotional. She really wanted to come out and say to the home crowd, ‘You made a good trade.’ She wanted everybody to feel good that she was here.”

New head coach Lin Dunn who recruited Douglas while at Perry Meridian High School on Indianapolis’ Southside to play at Purdue University was one of those people.

“She knows how to score and will find a way to score,” she said. “Now people should understand why we worked so hard to bring her here.”

While Douglas will spend a bulk of her time on the court getting acquainted with her new teammates and learning new plays, she’s ecstatic to fill the rest of her days being Auntie Katie to six nieces and nephews.

“I’ve missed everything from birthday parties to baptisms. I’m fortunate that I‘m going to be a bigger part of their lives. A lot of my nieces and nephews only know me by phone and the few times I’m in town during the year,” she says. “I’ve learned at a very young age that family is extremely important, it’s one of my top priorities; and for me to be able to come home and play a bigger role in their life is very important.”

Another priority? Helping the Fever bring home its first WNBA championship.

“I also wanted to come here to win a championship,” Douglas said. “Hopefully I’m a piece to that puzzle that they’ve been missing. I hope I can add a new dimension and contend for a championship.”