Did you know that Colorado Springs, where Focus on the Family is located, is an Olympic city? Our mile-high location and thin air make it the ideal place for more than 10,000 Olympians, Paralympians and Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls to train at the U.S. Olympic Training Center located here in town.
That connection helps explain why here at Focus we’re pretty excited about the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In my post yesterday I introduced you to two divers, both Christians, who will be competing in the Rio Games. Today I want to introduce you to another amazing competitor with her own unique trial-to-triumph story: Tamika Catchings-Smith.
Tamika played for the United States’ women’s basketball team in the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Olympics, winning a gold medal in each. She hopes to earn her fourth gold medal this year in Rio.
Watching her perform at such a high level, you’d never know the struggles she’s had to overcome to achieve such success.
It was no easy road. She was born with a hearing and speech problem that forced her to wear big, over-the-ear hearing aids that everybody could see. She got teased and bullied a lot.
As early as the second grade, she remembers praying desperately every day, “Lord, I just want to fit in. Can I just be normal?”
It was after her parents divorced when Tamika was in sixth grade that sports came into her life. She believed that if she got good at something, people wouldn’t make fun of her. That obsession to rise above criticism made basketball everything to her. In fact, she says it became her god. Nothing else mattered to her.
That level of dedication taught her perseverance, resiliency, and passion – all the things that have made her a successful professional athlete. But none of it – or her achievements – were able to fill the emptiness she felt in her heart.
Sports hadn’t become the savior she’d thought it’d become. But the Lord was at work in her life. He used sports to teach her how to work through adversity, and He led her to the Savior she’d been searching for all along.
To coincide with the start of the Olympics, we want to share Tamika’s remarkable story today on our radio program we’ve titled, “Overcoming Adversity Through Faith and Sports.”
Tamika Catchings-Smith plays for the WNBA’s Indiana Fever. It’ll be her last season in the league as she’ll be retiring this year. She’s the founder of Catch the Stars Foundation, an organization in Indianapolis that promotes literacy and fitness and matches kids with inspiring mentors.