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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ODU chapter.

Caitlin Clark, a senior on the Iowa women’s basketball team, has made headlines by setting the all-time scoring record in an NCAA tournament and becoming unanimously named 2022-23 Big Ten player of the year. Along with these achievements, Clark has contracted with many brand partnerships, including one of the first NIL brand deals with Nike. Clark, with thousands of fans behind her, is steady to become a household name in the WNBA as she has announced she will be entering the draft this coming April. Historically, women have been overshadowed by their male counterparts in sports, but Clark has proven countless times that she will not be ignored. Breaking records and setting new ones as she leaves Iowa in her final season of collegiate basketball, Clark has already etched her name in the history books. She is a prime example of a woman in sports; shattering the glass ceiling for many young female athletes, and leading by example to show them that they can “do it just as well as any guy could”

Women’s sports history is short but impactful. Nineteenth-century America posed sports as a threat to elite females’ fertility, this being a prime example of the double standard that stood long after slavery was abolished. Elite women did not need to physically exert themselves because there was no need for them to. Their female servants did that, and there was no need to stoop so low, right? But lucky for the women of the Gilded Age, there were a couple of sports acceptable for ladies. Low-impact sports such as tennis, croquet, archery and let’s not forget the swimming at the racially restricted lakes and beaches! The notion that women competing in sports is unhealthy can be dated back to the age of Aristotle, stating that women are essentially controlled by their reproductive systems and that too much exertion can be dangerous for their fertility. There were even campaigns to prevent women from partaking in active sports to keep themselves fertile. These are only a few of the reasons that women in sports have grown to become so influential today. The pioneers who pushed past those societal limits are the reason that athletes such as Clark can break and set new records, and be a figure for young athletes to look up to. 

Clark, an Iowa native from West Des Moines, grew up very competitive in every aspect of her early childhood life. Even in math where they raced to see who could complete as many problems as possible, she sped through them without bothering to see if her answers were right. She just wanted to see who she could beat. Her parents took notice of her ferocious competitiveness and enlisted her in various activities to see what she liked best. Once she picked up a basketball, it was all over. Clark’s competitiveness and drive for the sport were easy for her program director to recognize and hone in on. She quickly became spotted by several Division I coaches and was ranked the number one high school girls’ basketball prospect in America. In late 2019, Clark announced that she would become a Hawkeye at Iowa, with her family close by.

In Clark’s magnificent time at Iowa, she has taken the world by storm with dazzling performances night after night, game after game over the last four years. Her incredible college career has been decorated with awards and achievements such as being Iowa’s all-time leading scorer, achieving the most 30-point games by any man or woman in Division I in the past 25 seasons, and achieving the most three-pointers in a single season by any male or female Division I player. All the while, becoming the highest-paid athlete in the nation through multiple NIL deals. These partnerships include Nike, Gatorade, State Farm, and even Buick Automobiles. She has also conquered numerous records: She has broken the Big Ten all-time scoring record, Iowa’s single-game scoring record, and even the men’s and women’s scoring records for a single NCAA tournament. Clark has taken the women’s basketball world by storm and she continues to prove that she is a force to be reckoned with. Breaking the barriers in a male-dominated sport is not easily done, but she has done it. She has broken NCAA records previously held by all-star male basketball players such as, “Pistol” Pete Maravich, who totaled 3,667 points. Clark beat that with a total of 3,951 points at this point in her career. 

Clark is an inspiration to any athlete, not only on the basketball court, but also for young girls outside of sports. She is also an inspiration to young teenage boys as well because of her work ethic and breath-taking records, comparable to male basketball players in the spotlight. She has quickly become what most call the GOAT (greatest of all time), all while having yet to begin her professional career. She’s inspiring many girls, older and younger, showing them that through hard work, confidence, and drive you can become anything you want to be. With ice water in her veins, Clark has proven that there is nothing she can’t do, and her time has only just begun. 

Hi my name is Lauren and I am a a third year Strategic Communications Major at ODU! I love to read and write about anything, but I am passionate about pop-culture topics.