It’s not every day that a four-time All-American, three-time Olympian, WNBA All-Star and WNBA all-decade athlete makes an appearance in a small city.
But on Sunday at Seymour Christian Church, Tamika Catchings came to town.
Following the 8:30 and 10:45 a.m. services, Catchings told the story of her faith and basketball.
Catchings told the crowd that she was a shy girl growing up and was often teased for being different.
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As a youth, Catchings wore hearing aids, braces and glasses and had a speech impediment.
Back then, she wanted to be like everyone else. At one point, she even threw her hearing aids away.
However, looking back on it now, she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
“We loved hearing her story about overcoming so many obstacles, like being bullied, hearing problems, speech problems and moving around a lot,” Missy Casner of Seymour said.
“When I listen to others speak, I always try to take one key point away,” she added. “With Tamika, it was ‘Get your CUP!’ Her favorite cup is a yellow cup, and not even her boyfriend gets to use it. But she related ‘Get your CUP!’ to these three key points that I thought were relevant to anyone in the audience — Be connected to Christ. Be Unique. Be Powerful.’ What an awesome role model for young girls.”
Catchings compared her experiences as a youth to having Jesus in her life.
Growing up, Catchings was firmly rooted in the church. However, once she got to college, she started to sway away from attending services.
But Catchings rediscovered her faith and now actively involves herself in the church.
“Our kids were just mesmerized by her,” Seymour Christian Church Pastor Bill Lockman said. “To be able to go up on stage and get a picture and talk with them was great. We have been talking for days about it, and we couldn’t have gotten anyone better than her.”
As a high school sophomore, Catchings was elected Ms. Basketball in Illinois and was the youngest ever designated with that award in the state.
As a junior, she moved to Texas, and was again awarded Ms. Basketball.
She helped her teams win several state championships and helped her college, University of Tennessee, win a championship, as well.
In 2012, she helped her WNBA team, the Indiana Fever, win a championship.
Catchings has re-signed with the Fever and will most likely retire with her only WNBA team.
Her father, Harvey Catchings, also played professional basketball. She joked about him playing for four different teams, and so she moved a lot as a child.
Harvey Catchings played with NBA superstar Kobe Bryant’s father in an Italian league at one point.
Tamika Catchings said she loves giving back to the community, and she especially loves working with young people.
She runs a camp called Catch the Stars, which is for young men and women ages 12 to 16.
Each session has a mentoring segment and a fitness segment revolved around basketball.
“Set goals and work hard,” Tamika Catchings said. “If you’ve got a goal, write it down where you can see it. I put my goals on my mirror, and every day, you need to focus on the goal.”
Seymour Christian Church invited Tamika Catchings to return and hopes she will attend the church again and give more presentations in the future.