All good things must come to an end and although I've been mentally preparing for my retirement, I was hoping that my finale would include celebrating with my teammates while hoisting that highly coveted WNBA Championship trophy. But, unfortunately, I’m sitting on my couch, bundled up in my blanket, thinking about the last 24 hours and if there’s anything that I could’ve done to help prepare us even that much more to have a different outcome in last night’s game. Honestly… there isn’t.
Staff from my 1st years here - COO/GM - Kelly Krauskopf, Asst. Coach - Julie Plank, Team Dr - David Harsha, Trainer- Holly Heitzman & Strength Trainer - Greg Moore
I don’t remember the outcome of my very first WNBA game. I don’t remember who we played, if I had a good or bad game, or really any of the intricate details of the game. My one and only memory I have is the building being packed as the expectations I’d be playing in my first game as part of the Indiana Fever. As the announcer screamed my name through the mic, the crowd went crazy!!! Even now thinking about it I get the same chill bumps I got then, and my heart instantly started beating faster. What a feeling!!
Don't mess with US!! Your Indiana Fever - Rita Williams, Nikki McCray, Olympia Scott-Richardson & Alicia Thompson
It was at that moment, and through the years following, that I knew this was my home- Indiana Fever was MY team and Indianapolis would become MY city. I pledged that I would give every ounce of myself every day and that I would give whatever I could to the franchise to help us be successful - early morning workouts, playing overseas, doing whatever I could to be the BEST that I could be. Nothing has changed.
LOVE MY SQUAD!!!
This year, we’ve had so many highs and lows this year, but every stop allowed us to grow stronger - individually and collectively. I saw huge strides made both on and off the court. We stood united on social issues that meant a lot to us. We took a stand (and knee) in our support for wanting to be a PART of the change that must happen in our world. Overall, I think we opened eyes to being way more than just basketball players. I said this earlier on an interview, “I don’t know if I have ever been on such an emotional team as this one.” But, you know what? Now, looking back, I have seen myself grow just as much as each of them. They have pushed me just like I have pushed them. What an amazing ride!!
Tonight as I walked off the court for the final time with my team, the tears flowed down my face, the heavy heaves and heaviness took a hold of me. I love my teammates more than they’ll ever know! I love this city, our fans, this organization and all of the amazing people that I’ve come in contact with over the years! I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve given my family, my Catch the Stars Foundation and me! Wow… God is so good!!!
One chapter closed...
Well, it literally feels like time has gone by in a blink of an eye, but it takes me back to the beginning and my first game with the Fever. For 15 years you guys have helped mold me into who I am today and I’m so thankful. I didn’t know what God had planned for me then, but what I’ve read and know is Ephesians 3:20, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”
While one door is closing, God’s in the works of opening up another one for me. And, one thing I do know is that I have the support of all of you that have watched me. I’m proud of the journey I’ve been on and excited about the next chapter.
Thank you to EVERYONE who has watched me on all levels. I literally have been playing on a team since I was 8 years old… that’s a long time. A lot of people encouraged, inspired, motivated, pushed, challenged, and showed me how to get here to this moment… THANK YOU!! I love each of you from the bottom of my heart!!
It's only the beginning... ; )
Until we meet again,
Catch on to Fitness Clinic - Saturday, November 5th https://secure.qgiv.com/for/catchthestars/event/773187/
Parent Wellness Clinic - Saturday, November 5th
Catch the Stars Holiday Basketball Camp - Wednesday, December 28th - Friday, December 30th https://secure.qgiv.com/for/catchthestars/event/768107/
Wow…I was so pumped up last night that I literally couldn’t go to sleep! I’m so thankful for and grateful to the Indiana Fever/Pacers Sports & Entertainment for putting together the most amazing and heartwarming retirement celebration. Special thanks to J Moss, Nike, City of Indianapolis, USA Basketball, my teammates (current & former), Pacers players (current & former) and each of you- the fans, for a night to remember!! God truly is SO GOOD!!!
Yesterday I woke up feeling a little sad, but trying to figure out how to make it a somewhat “normal” day. I was super excited to get ready to go to church and be able to share another powerful message from Pastor Ramsey with my family. I must say… now looking back the day started out pretty emotionally at church. A few of my family members walked up to the front wanting to recommit themselves to the Lord. Now, THAT was powerful!!!
Following church, we hit up LePeep’s for breakfast, I went home took a quick nap, iced my knees and then got ready and dressed for the game. On my drive to the gym, I had a moment to reflect and honestly for a second I’ll admit, I got scared about the future. Not necessarily about what I would be doing, but moreso about the unknown. For 16 years as a pro, 4 years in college and 8 years through high school and middle school (28 years total out of my 37 years on earth), I have woken up knowing my next step in playing basketball and having a goal of one day being able to make it pro fulfilled.
Family Time : )
Upon arrival at the arena, before I got out of the car I quoted to myself, “Left foot, right foot… breathe.” Pat’s mantra on how to get through any and every thing. I walked through the halls with a big “Thank you Tamika” picture plastered on the wall along with all types of notes from everyone that worked for Pacers Sports & Entertainment- my teammates included : )
Trying to walk around the locker room like it’s just a “normal” day with everyone sporting cool #24Forever shirts isn’t easy, but we all did it. The Dallas Wings team came over and presented me with a Wings jersey signed by all of them. And, as I gave them all hugs reality started to settle in. This. Was. It.
Warm ups were a blur, but as I looked around I spotted so many people that have been a huge part of my life, lined up around the gym. Focus Tamika… Focus!
My fave singer/ friend, JMoss!! Love you J!! #SoBlessed
I had my head down, eyes closed, hand over my heart, preparing for the National Anthem, but listening to the announcers speak. As they announced the person singing the national anthem I heard Tamika’s favorite artist and snapped my head up to my FAVE, J. Moss, at center court. I let out a scream before he started and then had to close my eyes as tears streamed down my face… the magic continues… When he finished I ran to center court, embraced him and started crying LOL. When I finally pulled away, again I reminded myself, “Left foot, right foot… breathe.”
The game was probably one of the best ones we’ve had in a while, and it was good to get back on track & really GEL as a team. We were rocking on all cylinders-it was electric! Looking out at the sea of white #24Forever T-shirts I was continuously thankful for all of the support I’ve received going throughout my entire WNBA career, but especially during my final season. A lot of notables in the crowd from all of my different walks of life here to celebrate my last regular season game with me. What a BLESSING!!!
As I came off the court my final time with 1:33 left in the 4th quarter, it’s almost like time froze as the whole arena erupted and I stood waving constantly mouthing “Thank you, thank you, thank you…” What an amazing send off!!! Walking through the line post game, I embraced every Dallas Wings player wanting to remember this game, wanting to pass on the torch.
Catchings- Smith family : )
Quick change and then back on to the court for the ceremony. : ) I had NO idea what would come next (believe me I’m still pinching myself)!!! Chris Denari, who has announced my Fever games since the beginning started off the night, and then he was followed by an amazing cast including Congresswoman Susan Brooks, Mayor Hogsett, Carol Callan (USA Basketball), Ilene Hauser (Nike), Jim Morris, Kelly Krauskopf, Rick Fuson, Lin Dunn, Stephanie White, Briann January, Lisa Borders & Rachel Simon. Absolutely amazing!!
What a Night!!
The gifts I received included a copy of my accomplishments entered into the Congressional record books along with my own personal flag flown the first day of our 2016 season from Brooks, a custom hoodie with some AWESOME lounge chairs (one Fever & one USA Ball) from Ilene, and my USA Basketball jersey framed and lined with all of my USA Ball gold medal team photos from Carol. Kelly Krauskopf presented me with a framed picture of me lined with the words that people have described me as- highlighted by the word Relentless!! Jim Morris presented an awesome captured drawing of me AND a $100,000 check from PS&E to my Catch the Stars Foundation, while Fuson capped the speakers and had a BRAND NEW LEXUS SUV pulled into the building. I couldn't even believe it. For the first time in my life, I was literally speechless. In shock. Overjoyed with gratitude.
Talk about being ON TOP of Cloud 9 : )
Needless to say, I will NEVER forget last night and all of the people I was able to share the night with. So many memories created in Banker’s Life Fieldhouse and so many memories created in our Indianapolis community!! In my speech I just talked about never even imagining that I would be where I was, but so thankful for what God has blessed me with and for giving me so many amazing people to be in my life to share the memories with. Truly a blessing!!
THANK YOU INDY!!!!
Lots of pictures, autographs and finally food last night with the fam. Today, I woke up thankful for one of my greatest nights EVER and anxiously awaiting what’s next. But, before that happens… we have a Championship to win!!! So, I need everyone to be in the house on Wednesday as we get back to work and fight forward with one goal in mind-- #OperationSHIP (Championship that is… ; )
It’s hard to believe that I started writing this blog yesterday while sitting at the airport in Atlanta between Rio de Janeiro and Indianapolis. The constant realizations that I have just ended my 20-year journey with USA Basketball. A day I knew would come, just not when… has officially come and gone.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Saturday was the last time that I will ever put on my #10 USA Basketball jersey and represent my country ON the court. A thought, that became a dream, which became a reality 20 years ago, officially came to an end. Gosh, where has time gone? Last week I started thinking about what my last day would be like, and Friday night and I forced myself to go to sleep early for fear my mind would wander aimlessly for hours and hours. Nonetheless, I woke up at the crack of dawn Saturday, replaying all of my years, thinking about the amazing players I’ve had a chance to play with, and even more so the great teams I’ve been apart of. Thinking about my journey of basketball and the impact that my fave coach ever, Pat Summitt, had on me. This whole last run- Gold and all, is for her : )
I know she watches me...
This trip to Rio has been a surreal one in thinking of the finality that it represents. At the beginning of the WNBA season everyone wanted to talk about what it would feel like playing in my last WNBA season and going through my last Olympics. Funny because back then it seemed like forever away… Now, it’s literally 36 hours past, and I feel a proud sense of closure.
Ellis & I : )
Saturday morning I went upstairs to the deck to just enjoy the scenery and collect my thoughts and emotions one last time. As I was sitting there, one of my faves from USA Ball, Ellis, came over and we started talking and reflecting on our journeys within basketball. Ellis has been a part of USAB since 2005, so over the course of the last 10 years I have had an opportunity to get to know and hang out with him. It’s weird to think that I have been a part of USAB for more than half of my life. It has been a part of me, it has been in me, it has helped guide and mold me into the person and player that I am today. Wow!
Some of my faves
So much has happened in my life over the course of 20 years. People and players have come, and some have gone. We have matured (some more than others LOL) and life has just happened. We went from the young wide-eyed ballers trying to learn the ropes, to the more experienced ones trying to leave our own handprints for the next generation to follow. We’ve been woven into the fabric of Team USA and what it means to represent something so much bigger than our respective WNBA teams, Collegiate teams, AAU, hometown, etc. We’ve gotten to represent the whole United States of America.
This last time around I told myself that I would get out more, that I would focus on things outside of basketball, and that I would spend as much time as I could with my teammates. Check, check, check… I feel like I have been able to “experience” it from a different light.
New & old friendships that will be forever
I’ve been able to get out and see different sites here in Rio while still staying caught up on all of my newfound friends via Team USA. Bonds have been created within the team and our families that will never be broken. Like I always say, “God puts us in places and situations for a reason.” For me, being here and able to spend my last Olympic journey with my husband and my family. This is the end of one journey, and the beginning of so much more.
My lil sis, Syl... Love my fam!!
RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports
The question I keep getting is “What was I feeling standing on that podium, and how do I feel now?” The tears were from the realization that this journey has come to an end. A legacy has been made, but my life off the court and in what ever’s next, has just begun. The emotions were just thankful ones of an opportunity to get to spend with such an elite group of the last 16 years representing the USA Senior Basketball Team. Tears of knowing my playing days with Sue, D and my other teammates have come to an end. Tears of all of the memories, all of the good times and more importantly of the legacy that I’ll leave for so many players that will come up behind me.
Our crew on the Silver Cloud - thank you everyone (Sayit is the bomb)!!
This Olympic experience, my Olympic journey has taken me to places that I never thought possible. It has provided me opportunities that I never knew I wanted, and it has given me friendships that I will forever cherish.
They tracked our whole journey! Thanks to the crew : )
So, the tears and emotions… it’s for the ultimate ending of one chapter. But, the beginning of so much more : )