Tamika Catchings – and catch up on Lady Vols

Maria M. Cornelius2MCsports

Tamika Catchings earned nearly every possible award in high school, college, professional and Olympic basketball. Her life after sports includes running a foundation in Indianapolis that provides backpacks and supplies to children before school starts and owning her own tea and lunch café that now has three locations.

The latest recognition for the former Lady Vol came last week with the Indiana Fever putting her name in the film room, a location that Catchings joked was her favorite place as a player.

“It’s truly an honor,” said Catchings who was caught off guard by the surprise with tears in her eyes.

Lin Dunn, a Tennessee native and longtime friend of the late Pat Summitt, took Catchings into the Gainbridge Fieldhouse, home of the Fever and Indiana Pacers, to unveil the room.

“This is the Tamika Catchings Film Room,” Dunn said. “This is to honor you and all you meant to this team.”

Dunn, an inductee into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014, coached Catchings at the Fever when Indiana won the WNBA championship in 2012 with Summitt in attendance. Dunn now serves as general manager of the team.

Catchings is beloved by Tennessee fans and pretty much everyone who crosses paths with her. She made Indianapolis her permanent home, started Catch the Stars Foundation that empowers youth with fitness, literacy and character development and became an entrepreneur by opening Tea’s Me Café.

Sports broadcaster LaChina Robinson, who was featured on this site HERE, spoke for a lot of folks with an image on Twitter of a person tapping rapidly on the screen of a phone that was nearly on fire and the question in shorthand for women’s basketball: Which WBB player you’re defending like this???? Robinson’s answer: Tamika Devonne Catchings. Period.

GIRLS INC UPDATE: Last week’s column featured former Lady Vol Nicky Anosike taking the post of athletics director at Girls Inc. of TN Valley and can be read HERE. As noted in the story, Tennessee softball players are volunteering their time to help with training and skill development.

After the story published, Anosike provided this photo of Terria Boards, an aspiring softball player, and All-American outfielder Kiki Milloy of Tennessee.

Girls Inc. participant Terria and Tennessee softball player Kiki Milloy (Girls Inc.)

The smile says it all, and the photo brings into sharp relief how much representation matters. Terria can see it is a possible path for her.

“This girl’s life has already been changed forever after one day of Lady Vols pouring into her,” Anosike said. “She will never forget this experience.”

With Girls Inc. and Anosike trying to recharge the organization’s sports program, they need what every nonprofit must have – funding. Anyone can donate HERE, and corporate sponsorship also is welcome.

SOCCER: If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all – sung notably by Buck Owens and Roy Clark and Ray Charles and Jimmy Lewis – could apply to the Tennessee soccer team in 2023.

Jaida Thomas, an All-SEC First Team player who needed just four goals to tie the program record and five to seize it outright, is now done for the season due to a leg injury after playing in just two matches. The exit of Thomas followed the losses of Tara Katz and Claudia Dipasupil. Katz, a critical defender in 2022, suffered a preseason injury and won’t play at all in 2023. Dipasupil, a veteran offensive player, had to medically retire from soccer. Jenna Chatterton played in three matches before sustaining a season-ending injury.

The Lady Vols finished non-conference play with a 5-1-1 record and lost to Arkansas last week in the SEC opener for an overall record of 5-2-1. That wasn’t a bad loss – the Razorbacks are picked to win the SEC this season – but a road trip to South Carolina, which was picked to finish third, is set for Sept. 24. Before that, Tennessee will host Florida this Thursday, Sept. 21, at Regal Soccer Stadium at 7 p.m.

Thomas, Katz and Dipasupil formed a veteran trio with a combined 11 years of experience entering the season, and Chatterton also was expected to see the field more as a junior. Younger and less experienced players will now have to fill the void.

Jaida Thomas (Tennessee Athletics)

The Lady Vols already had to replace in goal the graduated Lindsey Romig, who was fourth all-time in program history with a save percentage of .791. That position is now filled by Ally Zazzara, a redshirt sophomore, and Abby Reisz, a redshirt freshman, who are splitting time between the posts.

Fortunately, the Lady Vols still have time to adjust. A big boost for a team is fan support. Admission and parking are free, and each game has a fun promotion. For the Thursday match, the first 250 fans will receive a Lady Vols cowboy hat, and hot dogs are $1.

VOLLEYBALL: A veteran Tennessee squad finished non-conference play with a 9-1 record and is now No. 15 in the country after being unranked to start the season. The lone loss was in five sets to No. 1 Wisconsin on the road.

SEC play is next with the opener today – Wednesday, Sept. 20 – against Missouri at home. General admission tickets are less than $7 and attendees can get a raffle ticket at the fan headquarters table for a chance to win prizes like an Apple TV or JBL speaker. (UPDATE: Tennessee won in three sets with a season-best five blocks.)

The Lady Vols will make a trip to Lexington to take on Kentucky on Sunday, Sept. 24. Both matches will be televised with Wednesday’s on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. and Sunday’s on ESPN at 3 p.m.

This volleyball team is powerful, experienced and fun to watch. It’s worth an in-person trip or tuning in to the broadcast.

Maria M. Cornelius, a writer/editor at MoxCar Marketing + Communications since 2013, started her journalism career at the Knoxville News Sentinel and began writing about the Lady Vols in 1998. In 2016, she published her first book, “The Final Season: The Perseverance of Pat Summitt,” through The University of Tennessee Press.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *