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Bob Kesling with Tamika Catchings

2019 Educators Hall of Honor Inducts Tamika Catchings

Tamika is originally from New Jersey and grew up in a basketball family.  While in her sophomore year at Stevenson High School in Illinois, she led the girl’s team to the Division AA State Championship and earned the title of “Illinois Ms. Basketball”.  After moving to Duncanville, Texas she also led her high school volleyball and basketball teams to state titles in her junior and senior years respectively.  Heavily recruited throughout the country, Tamika came to Tennessee playing from 1997 to 2001 and earned the Naismith College Player of the year Award, the AP Player of the Year Award, the USBWA Women’s National Player of the Year Award, and the WBCA Player of the Year Award.  Not surprisingly, her team went undefeated her freshman year and also won the 1998 NCAA National Championship.

Having distinguished herself in college, Tamika also excelled in the Women’s National Basketball Association after being selected as the third overall pick by the Indiana Fever in 2001.  She was named WNBA Rookie of the Year in 2002 and had the best season of her career in 2003 where she averaged a career high of nearly twenty points per game.  Tamika played in numerous WNBA All-Star games, was named “Most Valuable Player” in 2011, led her Indiana Fever to win the WNBA title in 2012, and holds several records as well as being included in the WNBA Top twenty players of all time.

Beyond the WNBA, Tamika also played for the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, she played overseas for several international teams, and is a four-time Olympic Gold medalist.  Tamika is also a business owner, broadcasts basketball games on the SEC Network, and is one of the country’s most highly-regarded citizen-athletes.  She became the first female recipient of the National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award, she was inducted in to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, and has served on a mentoring panel at the White House to honor Women’s History Month.  Tamika was named by Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton to serve on the U. S. Department of State’s Council to Empower Girls Through Sports, she has been a National Ambassador for the Allstate WBCA Good Works Team, and while still a player, she was the first recipient of the WNBA’s Dawn Staley Leadership Award which is presented 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.

Finally, Tamika launched the “Catch the Stars Foundation” in the spring of 2004 which seeks to empower all youth, boys, and girls, to achieve their dreams by providing goal setting programs that promote fitness, literacy, and youth development.  Now celebrating its fifteenth anniversary, Tamika’s foundation has directly impacted over fifteen thousand youth and provided over one hundred fifty thousand dollars in college scholarships to assist students with their higher education goals.  In 2011, the foundation also announced a partnership with the University of Tennessee’s College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences to assist at-risk high school students in the Knoxville area.  Tamika is also proud to call herself a UT Knoxville graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Management and Master’s Degree in Sport Studies from the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport Studies.