Kid catches basketball "Fever" on vacation

By Penny Shreve, Columnist, Wayne County (Ill.) Press | July 7, 2009
courtesy to FeverBasketball.com

On a visit to Conseco Fieldhouse following basketball camp at the University of Indianapolis, Jevin Shreve was greeted first by Tamika Catchings.
Penny Shreve
Our daughter Jevin has loved basketball since we first put a sponge ball in her hands and she shot it at a plastic hoop in our house when she was two.

So needless to say, she had a wonderful time last week at the UIndy basketball camp, led by Coach LeAnn Freeland, the Sims Sniper and six-footer who set the county record in scoring at Wayne City in 1993.

LeAnn became a three-time All-American at USI, where she led them to the NCAA Division II championship game. Now, her Lady Greyhounds are poised to make a national title run after finishing in the Sweet 16 last season, and having basically the whole team back.

With accolades like that, and the presence of four players and assistant coaches Jen Conley and Constantin Popa, you canít help but be positively influenced just by being at the camp. Popa, a former Olympian for Romania, is a 7-3 1/2 center whose hook shot and blocked shots made him famous with the Miami Hurricanes.

I drove Jevin to the camp daily from the home of my folks in Greenwood, which is less than 30 minutes from UIndy. It was a joy to visit with them and LeAnn, and to watch parts of the camp.

Itís a great camp, by the way, and thereís an overnight camp for grades 5-10. If you are interested, just Google UIndy and click your way to womenís basketball.

Meet Fever, Tamika
Thursday was the last day of camp, and afterwards Jevin and I went to watch the Indiana Fever (best record in the WNBA) at Conseco Fieldhouse with her daddy (my hubby), Kevin, and my folks. Iíd arranged for some media passes and was blown away by the marvelous reception we got.

For starters, the Fever PR staff was wonderful. They provided excellent, free seats for my family, and a media pass that got Jevin and I onto the court for the Fever warm-up. We were instantly welcomed by the P.R. guy and his helper, and minutes later, Tamika Catchings (think Kobe Bryant fame if youíre at a menís game) came out and introduced herself.

Talk about success. A 6-1 forward, Catchings is an all-around phenomenal player and five-time WNBA All-Star. She has twice been named the leagueís top def-ensive player and is a two-time Olympic gold medal winner. She was drafted by the Fever in í01 and won Rookie of the Year.

Remember her as an All-American for Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee? Or as a sophomore at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, when she led them to the AA crown and became the youngest player ever to win Illinoisí Ms. Basketball?

It is one thing for me to encourage my eight-year-old to make good grades and work hard. It is quite another when Tamika Catchings tells her the same thing, which is what she did.

"You Can Do Anything"


After a visit from Catchings, Jevin met Tammy Sutton-Brown before posing with Katie Douglas and the Fever coach!
Penny Shreve
After meeting Tamika, we watched warm-ups for awhile, then were approached by Tammy Sutton-Brown, 6-4 center for the Fever and former Rutgers star. She was very kind, too, and encouraged Jevin, saying she can do anything she sets her mind to, if she is willing to work at it.

After that, 6-0 guard Katie Douglas, who led Purdue to the NCAA crown in í99 and was a two-time All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year, came onto the floor, and my girl made a running beeline across the court, picture and pen outstretched.

Although Katie needed to get to a TV interview, she took the time to greet Jevin and sign her autograph. Jevin then plopped down between Katie and Coach Lin Dunn for a photo, which both of them gladly posed for.

Iron Sharpens Iron
Douglas is arguably the best player in the WNBA right now while Dunn is one of the sportís most successful coaches.

My thoughts turned scriptural: "Iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27: 17)." Jevin is a little iron, and it was positive for her to rub up against the big, shiny irons. Thatís what last week was all about: meeting and being around people who have been there, done that, got the goods to prove it.

I am very grateful to everyone involved for being so kind to us, and especially for being kind to Jevin. Signed photos, jerseys and souvenirs will decorate her bedroom wall, and because she has seen people who are over-comers (Catchings, for example, is hearing-impaired), perhaps she will think of them as she faces hurdles in the road ahead.

Tamika signed a picture for Jevin, saying "God bless." And He did.

*****

Last Thursday was my first trip to Conseco Fieldhouse or to a WNBA game, and it was a great experience. I would encourage you to take in a game there. Itís very easy to find and itís a beautiful stadium, stocked with restaurants and a great souvenir shop.

Further, the ushers at Conseco were really great. Both of them we dealt with went the extra mile. One man joked with Jevin and made her feel at home. A lady climbed two flights of stairs just to make sure we knew we had found the correct seats. Even the Fever dancers had their picture taken with J. J.

The Fever and Conseco Fieldhouse organizations obviously run a very tight ship, and the way they treated this small-town news gal and her family proves that they really do like what they do and care about the people they do it for.

God bless yaíall back.