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Friday, September 23, 2011
Tamika Catchings gets the call at last

By Tamika Catchings

I don't even know where to begin in describing my 48-hour whirlwind this week, but I have 26 minutes 'til my computer shuts down, so let's get started ...

I woke up Tuesday morning to a phone call from WNBA president Laurel Richie. It was weird because my phone is always on silent when I sleep, but literally a minute after I woke up, she was calling (God's timing).

As I picked up the phone, she could tell that I was just waking up. We talked for a bit and then she said, "Well, I have good news for you." Hmm. I said, "Well, good news is so much better than bad news, right?" She proceeded to tell me that I was the 2011 WNBA MVP.

I didn't cry, although I had tears in my eyes, and the only thing that peeped out of my mouth was, "Wow." Simply amazing. My mind raced 1,000 miles a minute with thoughts and things that I wanted to say, but nothing came out. I guess it's just like that. We talked for a little bit longer and then her last tidbit of information was, "And please don't tell anyone until it's announced at 2 p.m. on Thursday before the game."

LOL. So it's Tuesday morning and I have to hold that information for two more days -- I really didn't know if I could do it. I called my family throughout the day, and their joy and excitement were unbelievable. They have always been my strongest supporters, and year after year had shared their thoughts and disappointments about what they thought should have happened when it came to the MVP.

On Wednesday, I told my Indiana Fever teammates and a few more people close to me, but that was the extent of me leaking the information.

I gave strict instructions, as I had been given, to not tell anyone else. So, we get to Thursday and I'm doing media interviews and everyone is buzzing with the information but no one can "formally" announce it.

I went to sleep for my pregame nap at 1:30 p.m. with no messages on my phone. When I woke at 3:30, I had more than 50 messages and my Twitter and Facebook page were buzzing. The news had come out, and everyone was so excited about me winning the MVP.

I got to the gym a bit earlier than normal -- and I am definitely not complaining -- to attend the news conference at 5 p.m. I think about this moment and how what I'm going through is so surreal. The fan support I have gotten over the years and continue to get has been overwhelmingly amazing!

As I stood up there receiving this award, I first thanked God for allowing me to be in this position. I thanked my family, friends, teammates, the organization, fans and everyone who has believed in me and pushed me to continue doing what I love.

At times, through the disappointments, I've had to step back and refocus my mind and energy, but my passion has never left me. I hope my receiving the MVP award is an opportunity for so many young players, boys and girls, who play an all-around game to start being recognized, and not just the player who scores all of the points. Now, don't get me wrong: Putting the ball in the hole is important to winning. But my MVP award is for the hustle players who get the job done on both ends of the floor and work to better themselves all around, because that is who I am.

My journey started in seventh grade, when I made the decision to be a professional basketball player and follow in the steps of my father, Harvey Catchings. From that day on, I worked to become the best player I could be. I don't regret that I have been a team player to the fullest. I still am in awe that I have been able to experience so many things, including winning championships.

At the news conference, I was asked which of my accolades means the most. My response was, my Catch the Stars Foundation. Playing basketball has allowed me so many opportunities to reach out to young people and help them "catch their dreams one star at a time," as my foundation says. We are taught that serving others is first and foremost, and when I think of all of the servants who were put in my path to help me get to where I am today, I know I am "So Blessed"!

At the end of my time, great players will continue to come into the league. And soon, Tamika Catchings will be a name from the past. I hope that one day, the emerging stars will talk about the people who blazed a path for them. And I hope TC is a name they talk about because of the passion that I live with day in and day out off the court.