We have great seats, which are near the Fever’s bench. It is a busy area, and it takes several staff members from the fieldhouse and the team to keep everything going smoothly. I sometimes find it interesting to watch the trainers and medical staff as they attend to injured players.
The locker room for the officials is behind us, and they are escorted on and off the court.
I enjoy watching the coaches and the players on the bench as the game changes and the coaches alter their strategies. I have interviewed some of the players.
Friday evening the Fever hosted the Los Angeles Sparks, the reigning WNBA champions. The Fever got off to a good start, but the Sparks took over in the third quarter and won 84-73.
There was a special halftime ceremony as Tamika Catchings’ No. 24 jersey was retired. She played 16 seasons in the league, all of them with the Fever. Tamika, the third overall pick in the 2001 draft, played at the University of Tennessee. She was named MVP of the WNBA finals in 2012, the year the Fever won it all.
She was also named Defensive Player of the Year five times and was a member of 10 All-Star teams. She is also a four-time Olympic gold medalist.
Tamika was emotional when addressing the crowd. She continues to reside in Indianapolis and is director of player programs and franchise development for the Indiana Pacers and the Fever.
Her parents and husband were on hand for the ceremony. Her father, Harvey Catchings, played in the NBA from 1974-85. Her husband, Parnell Smith, also a retired basketball player, was a member of Pike High School’s 2001 and ’02 state championship teams. He played at the University of Buffalo and then professionally for several years in Europe.
Former Fever coaches Lyn Dunn and Stephanie White, past players and friends were also present. It was real nice to see them again. Some members of Stephanie’s family had seats near ours. She was named the women’s basketball coach at Vanderbilt last year.
Pokey Chatman is the Fever’s new coach. She was a player and later a coach at LSU. She has coached in Moscow and with the Chicago Sky.
Joining Tamika in the Fever’s operations is the team’s former point guard Tully Bevilaqua (2005-10), who is a player development coach.
Except for the loss, it was a special evening.
Shonk is a 1960 graduate of Southport High School, a ’63 grad of Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and a retired bus driver from Beech Grove Schools.