Tamika Catchings has never added up her career losses, but it would take a lot less time than counting the victories.
Athletes don’t come any more highly decorated than Catchings, with her two state high school basketball championships — in two different states — an NCAA title, a WNBA championship and three Olympic gold medals.
I feel blessed to play period. I feel blessed to be able to wake up every single day, go out and be able to work out, and this is my job.
“There aren’t many [losses],” Catchings said last week at the U.S. Olympic Summit. “But I think if I did sit down [and count them], I might get upset. I might start reliving the moments like, ‘Gosh, dog it, we should have won this game.’
“I feel blessed to play, period. I feel blessed to be able to wake up every single day, go out and be able to work out, and this is my job. …To be able to do what I love for as long as we’ve been able to, it’s a blessing.”
Tamika Catchings helped Tennessee to a 134-10 record in her four seasons, winning the NCAA title in 1998 with an undefeated season.
Catchings led Duncanville to an undefeated state title in 1997 after winning the state title in Illinois in 1995. She was named Illinois Ms. Basketball as a sophomore and Texas Ms. Basketball as a senior.
She went on to the University of Tennessee, where the Lady Vols went 134-10 in her four seasons, winning the NCAA title in 1998 with an undefeated season. Catchings earned All-America honors all four seasons.
Her pro career has followed that same trend, making her one of only eight players in history with a world championship gold medal, an Olympic gold medal, an NCAA title and a WNBA championship. (Texas Tech’s Sheryl Swoopes also makes the elite list.)
“In the seventh grade, my mission and my goal was to be in the NBA, and follow in my dad’s footsteps,” said Catchings, whose father, Harvey, played 12 NBA seasons. “I knew that I would do that, and then, of course, when the WNBA came along, just all the success that’s kind of come with it.
“Having the opportunity to go to the University of Tennessee and play for the greatest coach in Pat Summitt, be successful there, and come to the Olympics and the WNBA, and the success I’ve had both on and off the court, it’s definitely a blessing.”
After all that, she has come to an end.
I’m ready to kind of transition out. I feel like the game is in great hands. We have a lot of great, young players. Really for me, my role has kind of been to pass that torch on, and I’m excited about moving to the next step.
Catchings on her future
Catchings, who turns 37 this summer, has announced her retirement. She will finish her 15th WNBA season with the Indiana Fever and hopes to qualify for a fourth Olympics this summer.
“I’m ready to kind of transition out,” she said. “I feel like the game is in great hands. We have a lot of great, young players. Really for me, my role has kind of been to pass that torch on, and I’m excited about moving to the next step.”
But first things first.
Catchings and USA Basketball have another gold medal to win. The U.S. owns a 41-game winning streak in Olympic play, having won five consecutive gold medals.
“We just want to make sure we keep the USA tradition alive,” Catchings said.
Catchings hasn’t planned the “what’s next” part.
“I don’t know,” Catchings said, laughing. “I knew I’d have to answer that question. I just got married [on Super Bowl Sunday], and I definitely want to have a family at some point. But I’ve been kind of looking around. I’m really passionate about helping people. I have my own foundation. …I definitely want to continue to do that.
“I also like player development, so I’m thinking something in the NBA, the WNBA, USA Basketball, D-League, something in that family. I just want to continue to make a difference.”
Wherever life takes her next, Catchings surely will succeed, because winning is all she’s ever known.