It’s not uncommon for star athletes, especially those beloved by the city they played in, to stick around in that city years after retirement. One would expect that exact scenario for WNBA legend Tamika Catchings, who spent her entire 15-year career in Indiana representing the Fever.
Not only is Catchings still residing in Indianapolis, but the former All-Star forward has officially re-joined the organization as a member of the front office. She’s now the Director of Player Programs and Franchise Development with Pacers Sports & Entertainment (PS&E), a role that will allow her to work with the Fever, Pacers and Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the franchise’s NBA D-League affiliate.
Catchings was born in New Jersey, went to high school in Texas and played her college ball at the University of Tennessee. But there’s only one place she calls home.
“I’ve lived here longer than I’ve lived anywhere in my life,” she told WNBA.com over the phone this week. “It’s been a blessing. It’s the culture, the environment we have here. It’s my home. My husband and I have made it our home over these years. Just to be able to continue being part of such a great organization, I’m super excited.”
When she played her final game for the Fever in September of last year, Catchings and those around her knew she would remain an integral part of the organization. The only question was in what capacity.
Catchings wanted to be involved in all aspects of the franchise – not just on the WNBA side – and she was eager to focus on player development both on and off the court. In her new role, Catchings said she is assisting with leadership skills, community outreach and preparation for life after basketball.
“The thing I will love the most is the interaction with the players,” she said. “Just being able to help them figure out what they want to be good at outside of basketball, and the things that truly interest them.
“We focus a lot on having a game plan for your life. I think no matter which team you’re playing for – the Pacers, Fever or Mad Ants – all of us kind of have a plan for our lives. But we always talk about having a Plan B, in case professional basketball doesn’t work out. Even now that they’ve made it to this level, I still want to be able to instill the skills they will need off the court.”
As a two-time winner of the WNBA’s Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award, Catchings has proven to be the perfect candidate for this role. Her job also consists of some on-court development, especially with the younger players on the Fever.
The league’s all-time leading rebounder and second all-time leading scorer, Catchings is more than qualified for that responsibility, too.
When asked about her aspirations beyond this role, Catchings couldn’t help but ponder the endless possibilities in the basketball world. One of them is broadcasting, which she started doing a bit with SEC Network during this past college season. As for the chances of seeing Catchings back on the bench as a coach one day, she wouldn’t quite eliminate it from the equation.
“It’s funny. For probably the first 12 years of my career, I really wanted to be a general manager one day,” Catchings said. “And over the last couple of years, I transitioned into thinking I wanted to do something more like the role I’m entering now. Two things I always said I would never do are commentate and coach. Well, I commentated this year, so I can’t really say that about coaching anymore. I don’t know what will happen with the coaching aspect. But this is a good position, one I could see myself in for a long time and one that I’m super passionate about.”