DALLAS – Victor Cathey has been involved with the Dallas Mavericks for so long he might as well become an adopted member of the North Texas organization.
Cathey, 37, is one of the Mavs Basketball Academy directors. But his journey with the Mavs started nearly three decades ago.
Actually, Cathey attended his first Mavs Hoop Camp in 1992 when he was a mere 12 years old. Since then, he has become one of the Mavs’ ball kids, a camp coach and now works as one of the camp’s directors.
In other words, Cathey bleeds Mavericks’ blue.
“I’ve been doing Mavs camps for 14 years now,” a jubilant Cathey said. “Being with the Mavs has surrounded me with positive people who have strong character who really live out their own personal mission through educating athletes.
“They also understand that nothing comes without hard work, and if it comes without hard work you really won’t enjoy the blessings of your labor and you won’t enjoy the fruits of your labor with anything that’s given to you. Everything that we learn at camp takes work and ability.”
Cathey has been such a permanent fixture with the Mavs that he has made this mission a family affair. So much so that his three boys – 11-year old Noah and nine-year old twins Caleb and Luke – are also members of the Mavs Hoop Camp.
“Noah is a camp kid and he goes to several camps throughout the year,” Cathey said. “And my twins are nine, so they were thrilled when they turned the age of eight because they got a chance to tag along and got a chance to become like (Mavs owner) Mark Cuban says, a MFFL (Mavs Fan For Life).”
At the urgence of Greg Nared – the Vice President of Mavs Basketball Academy — Cathey has enjoyed the good fortune of coaching his kids at the Mavs’ camps.
“When they turned eight (Nared) was very instrumental in me bringing the boys,” Cathey said. “He said, ‘Let your boys have an opportunity to learn what you teach these other kids each and every day.’ “
“And because of that opportunity the Mavericks have opened the door for what I like to call a family environment. The coaches at Mavs’ camps have taken the boys under their wing as well. It’s a great opportunity for me to not only take them, but to open up the fraternity of other coaches that I’m coaching with.”
For Cathey, being around his three kids all day at the Mavs Hoop Camp helps them develop a special bond.
“It’s a joy to coach your own kids because it’s just another opportunity as a father for you to get a chance to spend more time with your own kids, and at the same time you get a chance to teach them the game of basketball the right way,” Cathey said. “It’s fun and it’s a pleasure having them at camp and getting a chance to interact with them. And when the ball kids come out and when the ball players come out and the mascots come out, you see them really get a chance to interact and enjoy being around other Hoop Camp kids.”
Nared praised Cathey for his dedication to the Mavs and to all of the campers. Nared said it is as if this is Cathey’s ultimate mission in life.
“He just exemplifies that great attitude and energy and respect from not only the coaches here on our staff, but also from the kids,” Nared said. “His energy is just electric.”
“It’s easy for him to be a part of our program and part of our coach’s association. No. 1, he loves the Mavs, and No. 2, he believes in what we’re doing on our youth basketball side, even to the point where now he has three boys who attends camps.”
Cathey’s first of five seasons as a ball kid was in 1992 – the year the Mavs used the fourth overall pick in the National Basketball Association draft to select Jim Jackson. When Jackson finally showed up after holding out the first 54 games in a contract dispute, Cathey was obviously star-struck.
“I was a ball kid for five years, sweeping floors, passing out stuff in the hallways, to going all the way to having a chance to work in the locker room,” Cathey said. “Jim was a great guy, and when I worked my way to be in the locker room I tried to emulate his jump shot as well.”
“And through the people around me in those camps back then – Rolando Blackman for one – they all taught you the value of doing things right, having character, being honest and living out the golden rule.”
Cathey acknowledged that he also was heavily influenced by Jason Kidd, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 1994 draft by the Mavs.
“During his tenure (with the Mavs) is when I spent a lot more time in the locker room,” Cathey said. “I would say one of the best lessons that he taught me was that you don’t have to score a point to be effective in a ballgame.”
“He said you can play good defense, you can get other teammates involved, and you can leave an impact on a game without even scoring a point.”
Today, in his role as a camp director, Cathey insists that messages he learned from Mavs players in the 1990’s still carry the same necessary weight.
“The valuable lessons of things back in the late 80’s and early 90’s haven’t changed,” said Cathey, who graduated from Dallas Christian School in 1998. “The value system is still there, and the only things that have changed are our kids.
“We have the same mission of teaching one kid at a time, giving them the values of doing what’s right, and making sure they have the character traits of being a leader. And the most important thing is learning a work ethic.”
As Cathey’s involvement with the Mavs have encompassed three different decades, Nared has watched the Dallas native’s leadership skills soar to exceptional heights. “He’s just a great person and he’s great to be around,” Nared said. “And he gets it from the standpoint of great work ethics, he’s always on time, he’s great with the kids and he’s great with the coaches. He believes in what we’re doing and what we’re trying to accomplish in terms of giving back to the community from the Mavericks’ organization standpoint, to making sure that the kids have a wonderful experience every day at camp. So he gets it, which is naturally awesome from our standpoint.”
From Cathey’s standpoint, that experience has now covered two generations of his family.
“He’s a Mavs Fan For Life and he’ll be the first to tell you that, and it’s trickled all the way down to his kids,” Nared said. “He’s been around (Mavs) players, he’s been around coaches for the Mavericks, and of course all of the participants who’ve attended our camps.”
“He loves what the Dallas Mavericks are all about and he’s such a community guy. He loves the fact that the Mavericks give back to the community in such a big way.”
In essence, Cathey has gone from a 12-year old kid participating in a Mavs Hoops Camp to being a camp director who, at times, has as many as 14 coaches working under him on any given week.
As the face of the camp for that week, Cathey’s role includes, among other things, teaching, making sure the kids are in the right place and answering questions from the parents.
“If you come to a Mavs camp you’re going to have the ability to strengthen the fundamental skills to go try out for a basketball team in middle school, or to try out for a basketball team in high school,” Cathey said. “Or if you just want to continue to live out a physical fitness lifestyle in recreation, we’re going to give you the skills in order to compete at any level.”
And for Cathey and his three boys, that concept means the Mavs have become a viable part of his extended family. For life.
“Some of the coaches that I’ve had a chance to work with, it’s really a family atmosphere to get a chance to watch our kids grow up together at the camps,” Cathey said. “We get a chance to teach everybody else.
“But it means a little bit more when those great coaches that you work with each and every day get a chance to coach your kids as well.”