Hustle and Heart, What it Means to be Pro

Hustle and Heart, What it Means to be Pro

We met Tamara Tatham at the FANFIT Challenge Toronto 2016 event. She's a leader on the Canadian national women's basketball team, she plays pro basketball in Europe. 

We asked recently asked her a few questions, and she opened up. Here's the scoop on Tamara, what it's like to be at the top of your game, but still hungry for more success. 

Q: How long have you been playing basketball, and when did you first get involved?

TT: I have been playing basketball for about 19 years now. I first got involved at age 13 when I needed to start a summer extracurricular activity. My parents gave me the option of dance or basketball. I chose basketball:)

Q: Describe what makes you one of Canada's best basketball players?

TT: Honestly I feel so humbled and greatful to be known as one of Canada's best players. The thing that makes me who I am and so successful as a basketball player is the fact that I have so much heart and dedication. To be the best you have to make sacrifices and give up a lot of your free time to commit to being the best. There will be struggles and I have certainly failed many times, but that's where my heart comes in and just knowing there's always a new day.

Q: How does pro ball differ from playing with the national team in international and Olympic competition?

TT: With pro basketball I find it's a great way to build your confidence and of course a lot of repetition. Playing on a pro team overseas the competition and the physicality is not as it is with the national team. But the great thing about  playing pro overseas is that you can never simulate "game-like" experience as well as playing 5 on 5 each day (as you would training alone so that's great preparation for the summer). Playing pro overseas you are typically the main player on the team. The coach looks to you in crunch time....ALWAYS. In this environment your strictly there to perform and make money for the club. What I miss from the pros is the family atmosphere that we have created on the national team. The women I have played with over the course of my nine years with the national team will always be my sisters and life long friends.

"... you do have to believe in yourself before anyone else will."

Q: How would you describe your mindset as a player? Are you intimidating for opponents to go against? What are you like in the locker room? Gives us the goods on what makes Tamara Tatham tick. 
TT: I wouldn't say I'm crazy intimidating... but in a lot of ways to my opponent I can be because I am in some instances faster and stronger than my direct opponent, and that's usually a bit scary to go against lol. In the lockeroom I would say I'm more observant and quiet; I like to listen and take feedback when it's given to me or the group. If there is a point I need to get across I get it out, but for the most part I would say I'm more observant.

Q: You're from Brampton, Ontario, it's been a hotbed for athletic talent, what is so special about the city and region?
TT: Awww Brampton....I love Brampton. I moved there from Scarborough when I started highschool and it's been so great growing as a basketball player. Not sure why Brampton is a hotbed....maybe it's in the water lol.

Q: What drives you every morning, if you were to give yourself a pep talk what would it sound like? 
TT: I feel so blessed to be able to play this sport, and I believe the gifts he has given me drives me every single day to play for him. I wouldn't have it any other way and my competitiveness plays into it as well. 

Q: What are your feelings about the Rio 2016 experience? The Canadian team suffered a tough loss to France, how do you rebound from something like that- and does this fuel you to be a stronger all around athlete and person?
TT: I feel we came up short in Rio. Our team worked so hard to make it there and to lose to a team we beat twice that summer and have been winning against for a few years now definately sucks. It was a hard pill to swallow but at the end of the day that's the nature of the win some and you lose some. On any given night anyone can beat anyone so I have to say it just wasn't our day. For that reason I can move on from it.  Over the years I've become so much stronger as an athlete and a person and my faith drives that. 

Q: What rituals or traditions do you have?
TT: A great tradition I have is to always have chapel on game day with some of my teammates.  Another game day ritual would be to always listen to my favourite playlist before each game.

Q: What is the best advice you've received from a coach- technical and/or philosophical?

TT: The best advice I've received was probably after my first year on the national team and our coach at the time (Allison McNeil) gave us these shirts that read "It's not every 4 years, it's everyday for 4 years," written on the back of them. That is the moment I realized what it took to become an elite athlete. With all the great advice by coaches tweaking my game and helping me find better solutions skill-wise, this is the one thing that sticks out the most. To become an elite athlete you have to work for it! You have to be willing to give up things, know the right things to eat to fuel your body, and you have to know what it takes to play with pride and passion. This has stuck with me, and I'm am so grateful for that because it has made me the player I am today. 

Q: Anything else you think people would need to hear from Tamara Tatham the leader and star basketball player?

TT: Dreams do come true. I know it sounds cliche but you do have to believe in yourself before anyone else will. The moment you do and let your light shine things can change instantly!

Related: FANFIT Challenge Registration now open in Halifax, Hamilton and Vancouver!