Tamika Catchings and Maya Moore Mix Hoops and Help for the Less Fortunate
By: Kimberly Winston
(RNS) Team USA women's basketball players Tamika Catchings and Maya Moore know about hard times, both on the court and off. Both women were raised by single mothers with financial challenges. Both women were raised in Christian homes and went on to professional basketball careers. And both now use their success as a way to help others, a goal both say is driven by their faith.
Catchings, whose nickname since her days with the storied Tennessee Lady Volunteers is "Catch," founded "Catch the Stars," a foundation that pairs mentors with low-income children to focus on literacy and fitness. She was named ESPN's first-ever "Humanitarian of the Year" in 2015 for her work with the foundation.
"I’ve learned that my success in basketball is temporary and the most important thing is keeping Jesus the focus of my life," she told Athletes in Action, a Christian sports ministry. "God’s purpose for me is not only to play basketball, but also to prepare our youth to catch their dreams one star at a time."
Moore, a Team USA forward who, like Catchings, was on the gold medal team at London in 2012 and is back again in Rio, promotes early reading programs for the United Way, battles modern slavery through the End It Movement and, like Catchings, is part of Athletes for Action.
"It’s been a great journey living and seeing the Lord's perfect timing unfold, and I’m still growing," she says in her testimony for Athletes for Action. "In the big picture, God is going to do what He wants to in my life, and He’s lined my course and given me so many ridiculous opportunities."
Moore, who plays for the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, has been known to lead Lynx fans in singalongs to gospel classics such as "Glory to God Forever." Lynx team chaplain Michelle Backes credits Moore's success to her ability to maintain her perspective through her faith.
“Her faith anchors her, and she’s very humble,” Backes told Sharing the Victory magazine in 2012. “She’s confident yet humble, and she’s confident not in her gifts but in that she has an incredible gift that God has given her to use for His Glory. So it’s not about Maya.”
Taj McWilliams-Franklin, who also played with Moore for Minnesota, said she is impressed by Moore's ability to put her team before herself.
“Maya has the humility and passion to be the best at whatever she chooses because she puts God first in all things," McWilliams-Franklin said in 2012. " No matter what the stat line says during or after the ballgame, God’s stat line says, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.’ That is what she aspires to hear at all times.”
Photo: Basketball player Tamika Catchings, left, poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee media summit in Beverly Hills, Calif., on March 9, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson. Maya Moore, right, competes against Spain during the women's preliminary round group B in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 8, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton