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Caitlin Clark: Inspiring a Generation of Young Girls in Sports

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Stevens chapter.

In the world of sports, there are those who excel, and then there are those who inspire. Caitlin Clark, the dynamic basketball sensation from the University of Iowa, undoubtedly falls into both categories. With her electrifying performances on the court and her unwavering determination, Clark is not just making headlines — she’s also becoming a role model for countless young girls dreaming of sporting greatness.

From her early days on the courts of West Des Moines, Iowa, Caitlin Clark showed a natural talent for basketball. With a passion for the game burning brightly within her, she dedicated herself to honing her skills and pushing the boundaries of what was possible. Her journey serves as a testament to the power of hard work, resilience, and self-belief.

In her freshman year (2020–21), Caitlin Clark showcased remarkable performance statistics, averaging 26.6 points and 7.1 assists per game, earning her the title of Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year. Additionally, in 2021, she led the United States to victory, securing another gold medal in the under-19 world championship and earning recognition as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).

Upon her return to Iowa for her sophomore year (2021–22), Clark displayed across-the-board improvement, with averages of 27 points, 8 assists, and 8 rebounds per game. Although the Hawkeyes secured a number two seed in the 2022 NCAA women’s basketball tournament, they were unexpectedly defeated by Creighton University in the second round.

During her junior year (2022–23), Clark continued to elevate her game, increasing her scoring average to 27.8 points per game, though her rebounding average experienced a slight decline. Her exceptional performance earned her the title of women’s college basketball Player of the Year by the Associated Press. Notably, in the 2023 NCAA tournament, she delivered a legendary performance in a semifinal victory over the University of Louisville, tallying an impressive 41 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists. Despite scoring 30 points in the national championship game, Iowa fell short to Louisiana State University in a match watched by a record-breaking 9.9 million TV viewers.

Throughout her senior year (2023–24), Clark became a cultural phenomenon, drawing sold-out crowds both at home and away, and amassing a million followers on Instagram. On February 15, 2024, she etched her name in history by surpassing Kelsey Plum’s scoring record of 3,527 points during a dominant performance against the University of Michigan. Her record-breaking shot, a signature deep three-pointer, came just two minutes into the game. Clark concluded the game with a career-high 49 points, setting another Iowa record, along with 13 assists. NBA Hall of Famer and TNT broadcaster Shaquille O’Neal hailed Clark as the “best female collegiate player ever” in the aftermath.

A few weeks following this historic achievement, Clark announced her decision to enter the 2024 WNBA draft at the conclusion of the season. Despite being a senior, she retained a fifth year of collegiate eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In her final regular season collegiate game, she surpassed the Maravich mark to become the most prolific scorer in NCAA basketball history. Bolstered by her stellar performance, Iowa returned to the title game in the 2024 NCAA women’s tournament, where Clark scored 30 points, yet the Hawkeyes succumbed to South Carolina with a score of 87–75.

Reflecting on her collegiate journey, Clark remarked, “I knew in my heart here that what we’ve been able to do [at Iowa] is so special, and that it’s not over yet, but I think I’m ready for the next chapter in my life, too.” As of Monday, April 15, 2024, Caitlin Clark was selected Number 1, overall in the WNBA draft by the Indiana Fever.

One of the most inspiring aspects of Caitlin Clark’s story is her fearlessness in the face of challenges. Despite being a young woman in a sport traditionally dominated by men, she never allowed stereotypes or expectations to hold her back. Instead, she embraced her identity as a female athlete and used it as fuel to propel herself to new heights.

Clark’s rise to prominence has not been without its obstacles. Like any athlete, she has faced setbacks and setbacks, moments of doubt and frustration. Yet, through it all, she has remained steadfast in her commitment to her craft. Her resilience in the face of adversity serves as a powerful reminder to young girls everywhere that they too can overcome any obstacle standing in their way.

But perhaps the most inspiring thing about Caitlin Clark is not just her success on the court, but her commitment to giving back off of it. As her star has risen, she has used her platform to advocate for gender equality in sports and to encourage young girls to pursue their passions fearlessly. Whether through basketball camps, community events, or social media, she is always there, cheering on the next generation of female athletes.

In a world where female athletes are still fighting for equal recognition and opportunities, Caitlin Clark stands as a beacon of hope. Her story reminds us that greatness knows no gender and that with hard work, determination, and a little bit of courage, anything is possible. As she continues to inspire young girls around the world, one thing is clear: the future of women’s sports is brighter because of athletes like Caitlin Clark.

Breona Pizzuta is a 1st year Computer Science major at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. At Stevens she is on the DIII Track and Field Team and a part of the Entertainment Committee. In her free time, she enjoys being outside, baking sweet treats and hanging out with friends.