Catchings Wins Inaugural Dawn Staley Leadership Award

June 24, 2008 | by Ericka Sanders
  • Hot Links | Photo Gallery: Catchings Receives Award | Donna Orender Q&A

    Frank McGrath / PS&E Photo
    When Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings heard that the WNBA was naming its Community Leadership Award after WNBA legend Dawn Staley she really wanted to win it.

    Fortunately, Catchings� outstanding community outreach in Indianapolis as well as Texas, Chicago and Tennessee fit the bill for the award. Recognizing the player who best exemplifies the characteristics of a leader in the community and reflects Staley�s leadership, spirit, charitable efforts and love for the game, WNBA President Donna Orender found no better player suited to be recognized for the inaugural award. �She is the most deserving of athletes,� she said during a pregame press conference to announce the award. �She touches the lives of thousands of youth.�

    On the court, Catchings is often called the �Do Everything� player. She never gives up on a play and in her first six WNBA seasons with Indiana, she led the team in points, rebounds, assists and steals, which hasn�t been done by any other player. A five-time WNBA All-Star, Catchings has a NCAA National Championship under her belt as well as an Olympic gold medal.

    However, it�s what she accomplishes off the court that often catches the eye of players, coaches and fans.

    Catchings started the Catch the Stars Foundation in 2004 and is geared towards providing positive academic and sports-related programs for at-risk youth between the ages of 9-16 in the metropolitan Indianapolis area. The foundation offers several programs geared toward motivating and inspiring the youth such as the Catch the Stars Youth Holiday Basketball Camp, Catch on to Fitness Clinic, S.T.A.R.S. (Sisters Teaching And Reaching Sisters), which is a self exploration for girls between the ages of 10-16, and C.H.A.M.P.S. (Changing Habits And Making People Successful), which is the male counterpart to the S.T.A.R.S program.

    �This award could have easily been called the Tamika Catchings Community Leadership Award,� said Staley. �She�s an amazing individual who is constantly giving back.�

    To win the award named after a personal role model, Catchings said she�ll remember this award forever.

    �When we talked about starting the Catch the Stars Foundation to give back to our local community we talked to Dawn,� said Catchings who received $10,000 from the WNBA for the recognition. �I wanted this award because of what Dawn represents. Dawn�s footprints have definitely left a mark everywhere she�s gone and I hope to do the same someday.�