Newly minted WNBA champion Tamika Catchings has a lot of fond memories from her collegiate playing days at the University of Tennessee. But there’s one of legendary head coach Pat Summitt’s phrases that inevitably sticks in her head: “You ride or die as a team.”
“When people got in trouble, Coach Summitt would punish that individual person, but she would punish the whole team too,” Catchings recalls. “Some people don’t agree with that approach, but when you’re playing a team sport, you have to hold each other accountable. If you do something wrong, you’re not just affecting yourself, you’re affecting the whole team.”
This is a lesson Catchings has taken to heart. Wherever she plays, she always makes a significant impact. As a sophomore high school student in Illinois, she won the Miss Basketball title. She later moved to Texas, where she won that state’s Miss Basketball titles as well as a senior. College was more of the same. At Tennessee, she was a four-time All-American and a key piece to the 1997-98 national championship team that went undefeated.
With the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, she won the 2011 Most Valuable Player award, multiple Defensive Player of the Year honors and All-Star nominations, but a WNBA Championship had eluded her. That all changed this October, as she and the Fever won their first WNBA title, and Catchings collected Finals MVP honors along the way.
Her new championship along with her three Olympic gold medals are tremendous team accomplishments which she cherishes more than any individual award.
“In this world, people put superstars on a pedestal,” Catchings says. “That’s where you struggle with teamwork, because you have players on the team that don’t grasp the fact that they could win more if everyone would just do what they’re good at instead of trying to do everything.”
According to Catchings, the same holds true for the Body of Christ. When we approach the Christian life and mission as individuals, we are weaker, not stronger. She envisions a day when all believers, no matter their backgrounds, can put their differences aside and work toward a common goal.
“It’s just important for us to come together and unite,” Catchings says. “Our main goal is to praise God and to live our lives for Him and to please Him. It’s not to please man, because if you try to please man, you’re always going to be disappointed.”
FCA Resources with Tamika Catchings
- Book Excerpt: Greatest Coach Ever
- FCA Magazine Article: Catching the Fever
- All For One: Devotional Study
- FCA Radio Interview
- FCA Radio Interview #2
- Desktop Wallpaper
Photos courtesy of the Indiana Fever