January is National Mentoring Month. You might be asking, “What is National Mentoring Month?” This month allows us to reflect on the impact of mentoring – those who have made a difference in our own lives and those who have made a difference in the lives of others in our community, including our youth. To celebrate the month, and the new year, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana is excited to share our first-ever blog. We are honored that Tamika Catchings, forward for the Indiana Fever and Founder of the Catch the Stars Foundation, is willing to share her personal thoughts on mentoring, overcoming adversity to accomplish goals, and her favorite things about Indianapolis as our first guest blogger. You should also know that Tamika served as a Big Sister in the past!
What does mentoring mean to you?
Mentoring is an opportunity to give back to others and provide an outlet in which someone POSITIVE can help bring value to an individual’s life. Age does not matter because when I look at families, sometimes older siblings provide mentorship to their younger siblings. And, even as we get older, I rely on “seasoned” leadership to help mentor me and guide me in the direction I need to be going.
Where do you place mentoring in your value system?
In my value system, I would place mentoring in the top 5. I believe that the way that I live my life and the lives that I’m able to touch along the way have given me a platform to mentor some of the young people that are following in my footsteps. Whether it be in the community through my Catch the Stars Foundation work, on the court with my own teammates, or across the WNBA and all of the causes that I support, reaching out and being able to make a difference in others’ lives is truly important to me.
At what point in life do you believe a mentor can make the most impact?
I believe at any point a mentor can make an impact. But, I think the younger generation is clinging to people that can help provide direction and give them guidance in reaching their dreams and goals.
Who has mentored you?
I’ve had different people mentor me throughout my life. When I was younger, my family, especially my older sister and brother, were my mentors. I desired to be just like them growing up and watched and followed them as much as I could. As I’ve gotten older, I have been drawn to spiritual mentors to help me stay focused on my dreams.
How did your mentor(s) impact your dreams and goals?
My mentors have always been supportive of me and helped push me to achieve everything that I said I wanted. It’s truly been a blessing to have people in my life that love me for me – despite all of my flaws. They see my vision clearly and continue to share the excitement I have the closer I get to achieving them – it’s been amazing!
How did you overcome adversity and challenges in your life to achieve success?
I was born with a hearing deficiency, a speech problem, had to wear hearing aids, and eventually I got glasses. So, for me, the biggest thing in my life was trying to figure out how I fit in.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a Forward in the WNBA?
If I wasn’t in the WNBA, I believe that I’d still be working with kids somewhere. I am passionate about seeing kids reach their dreams so whatever I can do to help make a difference, that’s what it’s all about!
Favorite pastime (When you aren’t busy running your foundation and playing basketball!)
I’m a faith oriented person, so the biggest thing for me is to be in church at New Life Worship Center, and just get the Word. I also love to spend time with my family, read, and I’m working on my cooking skills – LOL!
Favorite thing about Indianapolis?
My favorite thing about Indianapolis is the “culture” that we’ve been able to develop over the years. I truly feel like we have so much going here that even though we’re a small city, sometimes we have a big city feel and truly rally around the different events and things we have going in the community.
Your advice to kids and teenagers who are looking to pursue their dreams.
When you think about pursuing your dreams, it’s all about having a goal and working hard to achieve it! I tell our kids all of the time that writing a goal down is about 5% of being able to reach it. You have to put the work in, and you have to go at it with a passion and a determination that you won’t fail. When you dream big, work hard, and keep pushing through each of the letdowns, eventually you will get to where you want to be.
Indiana Fever, #24
WNBA Years: 14
Drafted: By Indiana, first round, 2001 WNBA Draft (3rd overall)
Founder, Catch the Stars Foundation
2015 Indiana Fever Silver Medal Recipient
2015 Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee
ABOUT Tamika Catchings
Indiana’s “do-everything” forward has completed 14 season in the WNBA, she earned WNBA Finals MVP honors while leading the Fever to the 2012 WNBA championship. One year earlier, in 2011, she captured her first regular-season MVP honor and she enters the 2015 season as the WNBA’s all-time leader in free throws and steals, while ranking third in points and fourth in rebounds. She is the WNBA career playoffs leader in points, rebounds, free throws, and steals. In 2012, at age 33, Catchings was the only WNBA player to start every regular season (34) and playoff game (10), as well as every game in the Olympics (8). She was named the WNBA’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, receiving the award an unprecedented five times – in 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, and 2012. Catchings was second in WNBA MVP balloting in 2002, 2009, and 2010, and has finished among the top three in balloting for the WNBA MVP Award in seven of her 13 active pro seasons. She is a nine-time WNBA All-Star and an 11-time All-WNBA recipient and she has earned WNBA Player of the Week honors 21 times, more than any player in league history.
Catchings is a three-time Olympic gold medalist for the United States, medaling at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece; the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China and the 2012 Games in London.
Off the court, Catchings is one of the country’s most highly-regarded citizen-athletes. On April 26, 2014, Indy Parks & Recreation dedicated Tamika Catchings Court in Thatcher Park on Indy’s west side, in honor of her good works. In 2013, she served on a mentoring panel at the White House to honor Women’s History Month. She was named by the Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton to serve on the U.S. Department of State’s Council to Empower Women and Girls Through Sports. In 2013-2014, she served as an Ambassador of the Allstate WBCA Good Works Team, honoring college women’s basketball stars who do good work in their communities. Catchings was the 2012 Honoree for the Pacer’s Foundation and Simon Youth Foundation Masquerade Gala. Prior to the 2013 season, the Catch the Stars Foundation was honored by the Indianapolis City-County Council. Among many other accomplishments off the court, Tamika was the first recipient of the WNBA’s Dawn Staley Leadership Award, presented in 2008 to 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. Catchings is the current president of the WNBA Player’s Association.