Say Basketball and to most people, if not all, the instant mental image would be that of a tall, strapping male dribbling that sphere of orange. Fanatics of the game would possibly have NBA schedules and rankings memorized almost as perfectly as the national anthem, and NBA-related memes are in abundance all over the internet.
Somewhat lesser known, but equally distinguished, are the players of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), the professional basketball league for women in the United States. Tamika Catchings, now retired, has dedicated her 15-year long career to the WNBA’s Indiana Fever team.Winning a place in the WNBA’s all time top 15 by popular vote, she has to her credit a wide range of achievements, including four Olympic Golds (2004, 2008,2012 and 2016), a WNBA championship and five WNBA Defensive Player of the Year awards, to name a few. She also served as the President of the WNBA Players’ Association from 2012 to 2016.
That’s how sports first came into my life. In the classroom kids could make fun of me for being different. On the soccer field (my first sport) and eventually the basketball court, they couldn’t. I outworked them, plain and simple. Eventually, I was better than them.- Tamika Catchings
Born with a hearing disability, Catchings is a remarkable athlete who, apart from her contribution as a player, has also worked towards providing mentoring and fitness sessions and basketball camps for underprivileged children.She is an inspiration to everyone who has fought against odds to claim their place in a field that they are passionate about. Talking about her game, and whether her hearing impairment ever seemed like an obstacle, Catchings says it is, in fact, a veiled advantage-
All sports are really made up of sign language and hand signals. I think I actually have an advantage with or without my hearing aids because I’m very observant on the court. Sometimes it’s almost like seeing things before they happen, because I can anticipate them so well. And another little perk: sometimes I really don’t hear what’s being said.- Tamika Catchings
Her philosophy in life, especially after a victory is evident when she said-
“We can be happy tonight, but tomorrow we have to come back and get back to business.”
Watch the 10 best plays of her career here .
*Closer home, India’s Women’s National Basketball Team is captained by Akanksha Singh, who was awarded Most Valuable Player in India’s first professional basketball league, MBPL 2010.*