Catch The Stars Foundation celebrates five years part 2

Tamika Catchings established her Catch The Stars Foundation in December 2004. As the foundation completes its fifth year and as Catchings prepares for her Catch The Holiday Fever Christmas Program (Dec. 11) and upcoming basketball camps, (Dec. 28-30), she sat down to discuss the evolution of her foundation with FeverBasketball.com’s Justin Whitaker. Below is Part 2 of a two-part story.

By Justin Whitaker | December 14, 2009


Success and popularity from four years of basketball camps and fitness clinics, along with Tamika Catchings’ desire to keep reaching higher to help others, led to her formation of the Catch the Stars Foundation.

“We decided that if we are going to do all this stuff, it has to be under a common umbrella, we couldn’t just keep doing things just to do them,” said Catchings. “We did a lot of research as far as teaming up with another organization to do it, but I decided I wanted my own goal, my own organization.”

The “we” in this was Catchings and her sister, Tauja. They were the co-creators of the Catch the Stars foundation.

Tauja, a college star at Illinois and drafted into the WNBA herself, had been playing basketball in Sweden when Catchings tore her ACL. Tauja came back to take care of her sister and they’ve been almost inseparable since. When Catchings was drafted to the Fever, Tauja joined her here and eventually helped run the foundation’s day-to-day operations.

Now, with Tauja busy with a family and other jobs, Catchings hired former Indiana Fever executive Lori Satterfield as the new executive director of the Catch the Stars foundation. Satterfield is the foundation’s first official hire.

Before Satterfield, the foundation was run by exclusively by the Catchings sisters and a host of volunteers.

“When you look at a lot of other organizations, it’s hard to imagine something being run completely by people donating their time,” said Catchings.

Around 150 volunteers are involved with the foundation’s roughly ten events and programs. Catchings refers to them as the, “best volunteers ever.” Catch the Stars puts on fitness clinics, basketball camps, mentoring programs, scholarship programs, back-to-school events and a holiday gift party for needy families. The foundation sponsors reading areas at schools and provides tickets for Indiana Fever games.

The focus of Catch the Stars is the kids and Catchings is passionate about helping the young ones.

“There are so many people that helped me get where I got and [my goal is] to be able to turn around and give these kids that same opportunity,” said Catchings. “I tell them what it takes to get what you want in life, and that it is always going to be a process. It is important being there and showing them the ropes and teaching them along the way.”

Volunteers for Catch the Stars foundation admire Catchings and enjoy seeing her involved and interacting with the kids.

“I think it shows that she has a heart and she really wants to make a difference with the kids,” said Kelly Stewart, a Catch the Stars volunteer who wrapped gifts for the Catch the Holiday Fever program, which, in partnership with Pacers Sports & Entertainment, provides gifts and a party with Santa prior to an Indiana Pacers game. “Not only is she helping with the kids, but getting everybody in the community involved. That’s really important to me, I like that.”

Ashley Floyd, a one time Fever Ball Kid and now a member of the front office who has been with Fever since its inception, has seen Catchings both on and off court up close.

“She’s a lot scarier on the court than off,” Floyd joked. “She is a person that, no matter what, her determination drives her life. She’s intense in all aspects of her life, she cares a lot about her foundation. She goes hard and does a lot for everyone just like she does on the court.”

“The fighter and the lion come out on the court,” Floyd continued. “But she does the same for her foundation, she’s definitely a fighter and does a lot for the kids and a lot for the community.”

Catchings enjoys seeing the difference the foundation has made on the kids lives.

“For me, it’s always about the story,” said Catchings. “To have kids’ parents come up to you and say ‘My daughter was not even talking before she started being in your mentoring program and now she is talking and being around other girls where she can open up. Now she is outgoing and she has friends at school.’ Stories like that make it rewarding, worth doing.”

Catchings attends at almost every event, being a role model and leader for everyone.

“It’s great when we are doing the basketball camps and Tamika comes around to all the kids,” said Anna Waggoner, a volunteer with Catch the Stars for the past six years. “She stops and takes a few minutes to show them how to do a few of the skills. She interacts with us and makes sure that at each camp we are trying to do better each time. It’s great for the kids to see a role model out there with them, I think they have more respect that way.”

The passion Catchings has for the foundation was none more evident than in 2005, when she was playing overseas in Russia. She negotiated her contract so that she would be able to fly back to the States for her Catch the Stars events.

“I came back that first week and did a fitness clinic here,” said Catchings.

“Then I flew back. I flew in Friday, did the clinic Saturday and flew out Sunday. I came back two times for the fitness clinics and a mentoring event, and then a third time for a basketball camp in Charleston, South Carolina.”

She traveled from Russia to the United States for three consecutive weeks so that she did not miss any event in the first year of her foundation.

“It was crazy. That’s what that was,” said Catchings, laughing.

That sort of commitment has allowed the Catch the Stars Foundation to award over $25,000 in scholarship money through the Catch the Stars scholarship programs in the past five years. Another component of the foundation is a scholarship program in which Catchings provides college scholarship money to top scholar-athletes in IPS schools. Her goal with this program is to provide not just one-time financial awards, but revolving awards as students progress through their schooling.

With five years gone, Catchings has more goals for the foundation as it continues moving forward.

“I want to have my own facility. That is something I really would like, to run our programs out of our own facility and branch out from there,” said Catchings. Moving beyond Indianapolis is a second goal. “I want to have some of our stable programs in different areas,” she said, citing interests in Texas where her family now lives; or Tennessee where she attended college; or Chicago where she grew up.

With Tamika maintaining her trademark focus and determination, there is no doubt the Catch the Stars Foundation with continue serving youth and its surrounding communities for years to come.

For more information on the Catch the Stars Foundation, please visit Catchin24.com.