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Tamika Catchings: The Deaf WNBA Star That Keeps Shining

By Chris Fischer, staff writer

The NBA, WNBA, and college basketball are, once again, set to tip-off as the temperatures fall and winter looms near. Fans are buying tickets and making predictions, while wide-eyed freshman and professional rookies are looking to prove themselves. Veteran players are just looking ahead to their next season and what they can improve on.

Indiana Fever forward, Tamika Catchings, falls into the latter group of players. The 13-year pro WNBA basketball player is coming off a strong 2014 campaign, and, is no doubt, looking to have another strong 2015 season. Catchings is also deaf.

Catchings was born with a hearing loss, but that obviously didn’t deter her from chasing her basketball dreams. As a young child, she wore hearing aids, and endured teasing. The teasing was so bad that she ditched the hearing aids so she could look like everyone else. However, that would change as a college freshman.

Catchings spent her college years playing at the University of Tennessee under legendary head coach Pat Summit. Coach Summit was the one who convinced Catchings to put the hearing aids back in. It must have worked, because, like many Division-1 basketball players, she had dreams of playing professionally, and was fortunate enough to be drafted in 2001 by the WNBA’s Indiana Fever.

She has been with the team ever since. Her basketball accomplishments are impressive: three Olympic Gold Medals, eight WNBA All-Star appearances, and a WNBA championship. She was named WNBA Rookie of the Year, and finished runner-up in the league’s MVP voting in 2002.

Catchings also was a prolific player at one of the best women’s college basketball programs in the country, if not the best, the University of Tennessee. As a Lady Volunteer, she was named All-American, and helped the Lady Vols to an undefeated 39-0 record, and the 1998 National Championship. It was the Lady Vols third consecutive National Championship. Catchings was a part of a team that is considered by many to be one of the greatest women’s basketball teams to ever grace the college game.

Catchings is also just as active off the court. She is the three-time president of the WNBA Players Association. She also started her own charity, the Catch the Stars Foundation, Inc. Her charity focus on helping children achieve their dreams.

However, her days in the WNBA are numbered as she has announced that she plans to retire following the 2016 season. Despite this, her inspirational story will certainly motivate young girls to achieve their basketball dreams for years.

For more on Tamika Catchings, click here.



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