Thursday night marks the premiere of the documentary CATCH98 about former Tennessee Lady Vols legend Tamika Catchings. This wraps up the 11th season of SEC Storied and is another way to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX.
Catchings played for UT from 1997 to 2001, capturing a national championship, achieving All-American honors and sweeping National Player of the Year honors in 2000. She then enjoyed a 15-year WNBA career with the Indiana Fever.
The focus of this episode will be on the 1997-1998 Tennessee Lady Vols team, which went 39-0 and is widely considered the greatest in women’s college basketball history, and Catchings herself, who was a freshman that year. Here is all the information you need to watch the show.
SEC Storied: CATCH98
When: Thursday, June 23 at 7 p.m. ET
TV: SEC Network
In addition to the team itself, Catchings’ childhood and backstory will be a feature of the show. The effect that had on her approach to that 97-98 team will be a huge focus, as she started all but two games and was the second leading scorer on the team.
Joining Catchings was a freshman on that team was star recruit Semeka Randall, who was a defensive specialist and became an All-American in her own right. Teresa Geter, and Kristen Clement were part of that recruiting class as well, which was considered the best ever.
That class was joining a program that had already won back-to-back national championships. The star was junior Chamique Holdsclaw, who was already a two-time national champion and was about to win back-to-back National Player of the Year honors across the board as well.
Holdsclaw, Catchings and Randall made up “The Meeks” that year. They were joined by current UT head coach Kellie Harper, then Kellie Jolly, running the show at point guard. Kyra Elzy, LaShonda Stephens and the other two freshmen made up a deep rotation.
This team entered the year ranked No. 1 in the nation, and they never lost that ranking. While the UConn Huskies have had many undefeated seasons under Geno Auriemma, none were as legendary as this Tennessee Lady Vols team, which went undefeated while playing the nation’s toughest schedule as well.
Of course, a down side to all this is that UT returned everybody for the 1998-1999 season but somehow was shocked by the Duke Blue Devils in the Elite Eight. They wouldn’t win another national title until Candace Parker arrived, even with three more years of Catchings and Randall.
Still, Catchings’ career after the Tennessee Lady Vols was also legendary. She played in Indiana while Peyton Manning was with the Colts, and the two legends captured the state. Catchings was a 10-time all-star, a five-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, the 2011 WNBA MVP, and a champion and WNBA Finals MVP in 2012.
Add in her WNBA Rookie of the Year honors in 2002 and her four gold medals in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016, and there really isn’t anything Catchings didn’t accomplish throughout her illustrious career. She often accomplished the peak awards just once, but she accomplished all of them.