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The Rise of Caitlin Clark


On April 1st, Caitlin Caitlin and the Iowa Hawks secured their spot in the Final Four after a hard fought victory against the reigning champs, LSU. This game was a must-see. A back-and-forth of two of the biggest stars in college basketball; Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese. And these two have a history. Last year, the two stars faced off in an epic championship game with LSU coming out victorious. This year, it just seemed right, for Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawks to get their revenge on LSU. And so they did. 

March Madness is an annual college basketball tournament held in March. The best mens and womens basketball teams compete against one another in a single elimination tournament. Round by round, madness ensues, as great teams go down and underdogs move on. 

Like most years, the men’s tournament was quite exhilarating. But this year, the women’s tournament had much more meaning. Led by Philadelphia native and head coach Dawn Staley, South Carolina seemed to be the favorite all year long, going undefeated in the regular season and continuing their dominance in the tournament. The reigning champs LSU had somewhat of an up and down season with drama involving star Angel Reese and various comments made by fiery head coach Kim Mulkey. Needless to say, Kim Mulkey and LSU had a superb regular season; finishing second in their league, behind only South Carolina. And then there was Iowa. The Hawkeyes had an awe-inspiring season led by superstar Caitlin Clark who averaged a ridiculous 32 points, nearly 8 rebounds and 9 assists a game! She broke almost every record there was to break. In an eighteen day span, she broke Kelsey Plum’s record to become the women’s NCAA all-time scoring leader, passed Lynette Woodard for the major college scoring record, and broke LSU legend Pete Maravich’s scoring record for the most points in division one college basketball history! And in the championship game this year, she passed Chaminque Holdsclaw for most points in the women’s tournament. Almost everybody is aware of her stardom now, but how did she become the Caitlin Clark we know today?

On January 22nd, 2002, Caitlin was born in Des Moines, Iowa. She lived with her parents; Brent and Anne-Nizzi Clark and two brothers; older brother Blake and younger brother Colin. Her family has a rich history of playing sports. Her Dad, older brother and cousin, all played collegiately. Her grandfather, Bob Nizzi, served as the football coach at Dowling Catholic High School in Des Moines, Iowa for many years. Following in the tradition of her family, she went to Dowling Catholic High School, where she played varsity basketball and varsity soccer. In her high school years, she began to gain popularity and fame around the country for her Steph Curry-like shooting and dazzling play. In her senior year, she averaged a staggering 34 points, 4 assists, 8 rebounds and nearly 3 steals a game. After her senior year, she planned to commit to Notre Dame, but at the last second she changed to Iowa. She quickly made her mark at her hometown college becoming the Big Ten player of the year during her freshman year (2020-2021). In the coming years, she propelled her team into a contender in the Big Ten and eventually to contend for the national championship the last two years. 

This all leads back to the Elite Eight game on April 1st against LSU. It was an exhilarating game from start to finish. Caitlin came out firing, dropping a deep 3 from the left wing 17 seconds into the game. All game, she seemed to get whatever she wanted whenever she wanted. But, LSU fought back hard. LSU dominated the rebounding with Angel Reese grabbing a monstrous 20 rebounds along with other forward Aneesah Morrow with 14 rebounds. It was a tied game going into half (43-43). The tides began to change in the third quarter when Clark hit a deep step-back three over the outstretched hand of Angel Reese. Reese responded with an amusing Jordan-like shrug jogging back on defense; almost saying, “ What can I do? “. After being down 69-58 in the 3rd quarter, LSU could never claw their way back. Angel Reese fouled out midway through the 4th quarter and walked off the court in what most people knew was her last college game. Caitlin finished with 41 points, 7 rebounds, 12 assists and 9 threes to catapult her team to the win. Iowa faced South Carolina in the championship game. Despite a valiant effort from Clark and Iowa they fell short to South Carolina. Next up was the WNBA draft just a week later. As expected, she was selected first overall by the Indiana Fever. So good news, she didn’t have to move far.

Caitlin Clark’s impact on the women’s game of basketball is evident everywhere. She has inspired more young girls and boys than ever before to enjoy and play basketball. Women’s college basketball viewership ratings are at an all time high. For the first time ever there were more viewers of the women’s championship game than the men’s. (18.9 million-14.5 million) Additionally, the women’s championship game was the most watched basketball game at any level since 2019. Most recently, she signed a 8 year- 28 million contract with nike which includes her own signature shoe coming out soon. And most of all, her career has given millions of people around the world a reason to follow the women’s game. Caitlin Clark has the “wow” factor.  She is a player where people come far and wide just to get a glimpse of a figure that seems larger than life. Although she has never reached the mountaintop of her sport, she will be a must-see in the WNBA for years to come. And who knows, maybe she’ll win a couple of championships along the way.]

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About the Contributor
Josh Scarpello
Josh Scarpello, Writer
Hi, I'm Josh Scarpello, and I am a sports and opinion writer for The Abingtonian. In my free time, I play basketball for the school and love to play golf with my Dad. For The Abingtonian, I am excited to give updates on anything Philly sports, happenings in the sports world and some of my bold opinions. I'm excited to write for The Abingtonian in my last two and a half years of high school.

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    Linda RobertsMay 10, 2024 at 12:28 pm

    Fantastic reporting Thanks Josh