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Tamika Catchings honors scholar athletes during virtual celebration

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Tamika Catchings, who is a WNBA legend, celebrated nearly 50 student athletes Thursday night during the annual Catch the Stars foundation scholar athlete celebration. The event has been around for more than 10 years, but this year it’s gone virtual due to COVID-19 restrictions.

It takes a lot of work and determination to be an athlete, but 47 central Indiana students from 29 high schools were recognized for being scholar athletes. It’s all thanks to the Catch the Stars Foundation which is spearheaded by four-time Olympic gold medalist and Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Catchings.

“Being a student athlete there’s a reason why the student comes before the athlete,” said Catchings.

She said sports are great, but academics matter most. These students meet the mark. To qualify for the scholarships, students had to meet a list of requirements from having outstanding character, being a community role model and having a good grade point average.

“You still have work that you need to be doing and really getting prepared for the next step,” she said.

Typically this event is a huge in-person celebration. COVID-19 is keeping that from happening, but not keeping the foundation from honoring the students. All of the students are heading off to some college or university. So scholarship awards between $10,000 – $20,000 were given out.

“There’s a lot of devastation happening and there’s a lot of frustration but at the end of the day we’re all in the same situation,” said Catchings.

A couple other famous athletes took time to share a virtual message during the celebration. Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo and two-time Olympic USA Bobsled team member Aja Evans shared words of encouragement.

“Congratulations on all your hard work you have pushed through your four years of high school,” said Evans.

This celebration falls in line with the work the Catch the Stars Foundation does throughout the year with youth encouragement and enrichment.