Tamika Catchings is a 6’1” women’s basketball player who is thankful for the opportunity to play professional sports.
What does Title IX mean to Catchings?
Without it she knows that she wouldn’t be a pioneer in the WNBA with post playing career dreams of being an ambassador for the league and a general manager.
Catchings grew up watching her father, Harvey Catchings, compete in the NBA. Initially, her participation in sports was all in the family, but once her confidence and talent exploded she recognized that playing at the collegiate level was in her future.
Catchings was in the 8th grade when she saw legendary University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Head Summitt for the first time.
“I remember I was flipping through the channels and all of a sudden the screen just had her eyes,” said Catchings. “For the TV to capture that I was pulled in. I started watching her on the sidelines and I could tell that she really cared about her team. Even for me in the 8th I recognized that if I ever had the opportunity to play for her it would be the most amazing thing.”
Indeed Catchings became a Lady Vol and under Summitt’s guidance she was selected as a four-time Kodak All-American and won an NCAA National Championship.
Many wonder where women’s basketball would be without Summitt. Maybe the question should be, “Where would it be without Lin Dunn?”
Dunn is a women’s basketball pioneer who will proudly tell you that she is 25 years older than Title IX. She remembers when women didn’t have any resources, and growing up in Alabama it was against the law for girls to play sports. Eventually, her family moved to Tennessee and her new community embraced girl’s basketball. Dunn played two seasons in high school, but her playing career was cut short when she enrolled at the University of Tennessee – Martin and learned once again that women were basketball outsiders.
“I drove them crazy the four years that I was at UT Martin to start a women’s basketball team,” said Dunn. “I was relentless in my desire for there to be a team. I guess they like to give me credit because the year after I graduated was the first year that they had a team. And that was the year that Pat Head Summitt was a freshman.”
Yes, Dunn’s perseverance paved the way for Summitt’s opportunity to play collegiate women’s basketball. Without Dunn there wouldn’t be Summitt, and without Summitt there wouldn’t be Catchings.
Today Dunn’s and Catchings’ paths have intersected once again, this time in the WNBA. Dunn is the head coach of the Indiana Fever and Catchings is its MVP forward. Together they are building a business, striving to win a WNBA championship, and writing women’s basketball’s next chapter.
Good Night Sports Fans,