Catchings From Korea:
The Game Runs in Her Family

January 17, 2006 | Reprinted from JoongAng Daily
Click here to view original article as distributed by Herald-Tribune International
Asked about her dreams, Tamika Catchings, 27, the center for the Woori Bank Hansae, said, “I would like to have five children. All boys. Then I will create an amateur basketball team, and I’ll be a coach.”

When this reporter expressed doubt, she said, “I’m serious. If our team does well, [the interpreter] can be our manager.”

Catchings has a knack for making people laugh. When she first arrived in Korea about three years ago, a teammate told her that on Lunar New Year’s Day people bow on their knees for New Year’s money. When Woori Bank basketball team head coach Park Myeong-su showed up, Catchings suddenly bowed on her knees and put out her hands. “Give me New Year’s money. If I bow twice, do you pay me twice?” she asked.

With strength and an array of skills, Catchings is a powerhouse. However, her teammates complimented her for being cute. Catchings has learned a bit of Korean, and says things like “I like you sister,” “Let’s go jogging,” and “Let’s go stretching.”

In the first round of the 2006 winter league, which Catching missed, Woori lost four games and won just one. But after Catchings hit the court, the team won three consecutive games. Catchings scored 31 points per game on average and grabbed 13.7 rebounds. In the past, Woori Bank won the 2003 winter and summer leagues thanks to Catchings. With her on the team, Woori Bank is again aiming to win the 2006 winter league.

Since she debuted in the WNBA in 2002, Catchings has had the most points, rebounds and assists on the Indiana Fever, guiding them to the playoffs. That year, Catchings won the WNBA Rookie of the Year. Someday she wants to play Alonzo Mourning of Miami Heat one on one. Catchings is impressed with Mourning, who plays so hard, it’s as if each game is his last.

Her father, Harvey Catchings, played 11 seasons in the NBA. He always told his daughter, “Don’t hesitate to leave the court if you feel like it.”

“I’ve never seen a foreign player who throws herself in the court so hard. There is no Korean player who can do that. Korean players need to learn not only her techniques but also her attitude,” said MBC sports correspondent Jeong Mi-ra.

Catchings also leads children’s basketball camps in Indiana and South Carolina. In addition to teaching basketball, she also manages the camps. For two years, she took leadership and management courses in graduate school to manage the camps. She missed the first round of the 2006 winter league because she wanted to complete her responsibilities related to the camps. It was something she wanted to do since she was young.

by Kang In-sik