Caitlin Clark Inspires Fans Across America

By Ambassador Callista L. Gingrich

On Sunday, Caitlin Clark played the final basketball game of her college career. Though the Iowa Hawkeyes ceded the national championship to the undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks in an 87-75 loss, Clark finished the game with an impressive 30 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.

But last weekend’s 40-minute game—in which 18.7 million viewers saw her break the record for the most points in a single quarter of an NCAA championship game—was just a snapshot of Clark’s astounding basketball career thus far.

On March 3, Clark became the NCAA Division I all-time scoring leader for men and women and just days later, she broke Stephen Curry’s NCAA record for the most 3-pointers in one season. For her 2023-24 senior season, she was the all-time leader in assists for the Big Ten and won both the Naismith Player of the Year and the AP Player of the Year awards for the second year in a row.

Clark’s talent on the court has taken the sports world by storm. Women’s trailblazing tennis star Billie Jean King called Clark “indomitable,” two-time Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning said she has “inspired millions,” and Hall of Fame NBA guard Magic Johnson said  she has “changed the game forever.” At the victory podium following Sunday’s game, South Carolina Coach Dawn Staley acknowledged Clark’s historic contribution to women’s basketball and said, “I want to personally thank Caitlin Clark for lifting up our sport.”

But in addition to her talent, Clark has grown to become a grounded, unselfish, and motivating leader who is an example to all her fans of what can be achieved when leaders encourage their team.

As Clark said, “The things I can say about my teammates and truly believe and instill that confidence in them, that’s one of the coolest things as a point guard, as a leader, as a friend, as a teammate. That’s how much better you can make people by just believing in them and telling that to them, to their face.”

In addition to her teammates, coaches, and fans, Clark’s success is supported by her tight-knit family and her Catholic faith. A native of Des Moines, Iowa, Clark attended Catholic school throughout her elementary and high school years. While playing Varsity basketball for Dowling Catholic High School, Clark said in an interview, “We get to live our faith every day. Dowling starts every day with prayer and ends every day with prayer. This is a big reason why Dowling has such a special culture and is such a special place to go to school.”

Throughout college, Clark’s brother, Blake, the quarterback for the Iowa State Cyclones, consistently reminded her to remain steadfast in her faith. He encouraged her to pray the Rosary and to attend Mass near campus, where she was often spotted in the pew.

Those who have known Clark throughout her life can attest to her growth as an athlete, a trailblazer, and a woman of faith. Father Joseph Pins, pastor of Clark’s hometown parish, said of her accomplishments, “We’re proud of our alumna who has done such a great, great, great, thing in life. It’s always good as we form children to … see success not just on the basketball court but also in her faith life.”

For Clark, success is about more than scoreboards and statistics. “It’s not just about scoring a lot of points or winning; she loves playing in front of a sold-out arena because she gets to entertain people and bring a smile to their face,” Clark’s high school basketball coach Kristin Meyer said. “For two hours she lets them have this great experience and she takes that pretty seriously and knows that those gifts from God are an opportunity to bring joy to other people.” 

As Clark embarks on the next chapter of her career and enters the 2024 WNBA draft, she leaves Iowa without a championship ring but with her head held high. “When I reflect back on my [Iowa] career, I know I gave it every single thing I had,” she said. “[E]verybody believed there’s no way Iowa was making the Final Four once. But to do it twice? That’s pretty incredible.”

Coming off a record-crushing season and astounding tournament finish, sports fans across America are eager to see what comes next for Caitlin Clark. But one thing is for sure: she’s just getting started.