Tamika Catchings Receives Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award Given By The Indiana Civil Rights Commission

By: Zachary Diamond
Posted: January 10, 2021

The Indiana Civil Rights Commission has awarded former WNBA player and current GM Tamika Catchings the 2021 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Indiana Holiday Commission Freedom Award!

The award is given to four Hoosiers in Indiana who have worked diligently to improve their communities in a manner that exemplifies the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, which is an amazing honor.

Catchings said of her award, “There is not an overnight cure for what we are dealing with but TOGETHER we can ALL step up to BE THE CHANGE for our future!”

Catchings had a 15-year WNBA career with the Indiana Fever and is currently the team’s Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager. She is the best player in Fever history and has been working to improve the Indianapolis community for almost 20 years.

After getting drafted to the WNBA in 2001, Catchings started a five-day basketball camp to teach kids life skills, positivity, goal setting, and teamwork (as well as basketball). She continued the camp in 2002 while also starting the Catch on to Fitness Clinic which taught kids the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle and raised canned food donations for a food bank.

In the spring of 2004, Catchings created the Catch the Stars Foundation to support disadvantaged youth in achieving their dreams. The foundation promotes youth fitness, literacy, and development. In February 2011, the Foundation announced a partnership with the University of Tennessee School of Education, Health and Human Services to assist at-risk high school students in Knoxville.

Catchings has continued her clinics to this day, as they now are in or approaching twenty years. In that time her foundation has helped over 15,000 youth via basketball camps, fitness clinics, back to school celebrations, mentoring programs, reading corners, and Scholarship programs. In 2019 alone, 1,200 backpacks filled with school supplies were donated to students in need and $104,000 in scholarship money went to student-athletes from Indiana.

The work of Catchings doesn’t stop with her foundation. During the 2020 election, Catchings signed up to be a poll worker in Indiana. She told the Fever in October:

“We talk a lot about impact. I feel like that has been my word for the last five years since I retired. By working the poles, I think it gives me an opportunity to make an impact.”

Catchings went on to say:

“For me personally, it’s almost like a responsibility. An individual responsibility of being in a space and making it easy as we possibly can for people to vote.”

All in all, the current GM of the Indiana Fever and basketball legend Tamika Catchings has demonstrated a commitment to improving the Indiana community and has earned her recognition by the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. Catchings is a role model and example not just for athletes, but for members of the community everywhere.

You just know that the 10x WNBA All-Star, 7x All-WNBA First Team, 5x All-WNBA Second Team, 5x Defensive Player of the Year, 2011 MVP, and 2012 WNBA Champion’s work is not done- she will continue to try and improve the Indianapolis community for everyone.

Tamika Catchings will receive her award along with the other recipients online over zoom during the State of Indiana’s 30th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Indiana Holiday Celebration on Thursday, January 14, 2021, at 12:00pm EST.

To donate to her Catch the Stars foundation, click here.

The Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) enforces the civil rights laws of the State of Indiana. They investigate complaints of discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation, credit and education. They also educate organizations, companies, landlords, associations, and individuals on their rights and responsibilities under Indiana Civil Rights Laws and the mission to eradicate discrimination.  

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For more thoughts and opinions from Zachary Diamond, check out his author page or Twitter.

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

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