Tamika Catchings is one of the greatest women’s basketball players in the history of the game. As a Tennessee Lady Volunteer, she was a four-time All-American and also won a national championship. In the WNBA, Tamika went on to nab Rookie of the Year honors before adding seven All-Star appearances, five Defensive Player of the Year Awards, one Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award, and was the WNBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2011. Her Hall of Fame career was topped off this past season when Tamika won her first WNBA Championship and WNBA Finals MVP as the Indiana Fever defeated the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA Finals.
And to top it all off, Tamika is legally deaf.
As documented in Tamika’s recent Huffington Post article, the talented athlete found a safe haven in sports from those who pick on her because of her differences in speaking ability and hearing. Day after day she remembers going home to her parents in tears about things said to her. But, like great parents, Tamika’s mom and dad sent her back each day, assuring her that it would be better and to continue to do her best “no matter what others might say.” Tamika began to focus on reading lips and facial cues to compensate for what she lacked in audible hearing. The more she worked at it, the better she became.
Tamika’s college coach Pat Summit inspired her to be an inspiration to others – to use her situation and platform to encourage those going through a similar path in life. “I’ve tried to live by that mantra ever since,” Tamika shared. Instead of feeling sorry for herself Tamika has competed to make up for any physical limitations she may have while also understanding that her position as a high-profile athlete puts her in an unique position to show that all things are possible if you compete every day.
“Anything you can put your mind to, no matter what obstacles may stand in your way, is attainable through hard work and dedication. I truly believe that.”