Caitlin Clark gets emotional as she says goodbye to Iowa and sends an inspirational message to fans

Clark will be recognized as the most beloved athlete to emerge from the state that also produced Dan Gable, Bob Feller, and Nile Kinnick.
Caitlin Clark raised her arms as she walked across the floor, pumped her fists, and formed a heart with her hands as she waved farewell to her legion of adoring fans who had come to see her play one final time at Iowa City’s Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Monday night.

The clock had just struck zero on No. 1 seed Iowa’s hard-fought 64-54 victory over No. 8 West Virginia in the women’s NCAA Tournament, and she wanted to thank the fans.

The Hawkeyes will travel to Albany, New York, to continue their quest to reach the championship game for the second consecutive year. Regardless of what happens next, Clark will be remembered as the most beloved, if not the greatest, athlete to emerge from the state that also provided Dan Gable, Bob Feller, and Nile Kinnick.

“I’m very grateful that I got to play in an environment that supports women’s athletics the way that they do, not only women’s basketball — and to be honest, they’ve been doing this before I ever stepped on campus,” said Clark. “Maybe it wasn’t quite at the magnitude it is now, but these people and these fans have showed up, and they’ll continue to show up.”

The NCAA Division I all-time scoring leader finished with 32 points on a night when neither she nor her teammates had it easy. The Mountaineers’ physical defense attempted to take her off her game, and for spells, it succeeded. During the fourth quarter, she had to have blood removed from her leg.

Among those in attendance were Basketball Hall of Fame member Nancy Lieberman, also known as “Lady Magic,” and San Francisco 49ers star tight end George Kittle, who played for the Hawkeyes from 2013 to 2016.

Clark’s parents were in the stands, as usual. Brent, her father, was a weekend social media presence for his evident anger with his daughter for allowing her frustration to show when her shot didn’t fall or she didn’t

Receive calls against Holy Cross on Saturday. He appeared concerned on ESPN’s program Monday, even as Iowa pulled away. Anne, her mother, smiled as she stood, hands clasped.

And, as with every home game, supporters of all ages showed up wearing No. 22 jerseys and T-shirts, with many carrying banners honoring the Iowa star.

“I try not to look in the stands the best I can,” Clark went on to say. “I’m not sure, but my family has always supported me through the ups and downs of my path. More than anything, they simply look at me and motivate me, which is a sense of reassurance.”

Clark’s first regular-season game at Carver-Hawkeye occurred in November 2020. She had 27 points in a 96-81 victory over Northern Iowa. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, attendance was limited to family and media members. More common were the cardboard cutouts of supporters, including one of Clark’s golden labrador, Bella.

As Clark’s career progressed, the crowds grew in numbers. This year’s home games were completely sold out.

Carver-Hawkeye is where she broke Kelsey Plum’s Division I women’s scoring record with a career-high 49 against Michigan. This is where she

He surpassed the late Pete Maravich of LSU as the all-time highest scorer in NCAA Division I. She scored 35 against Ohio State that afternoon. She set the Division I single-season scoring mark on Monday with a couple of late free shots.
She’ll travel to Albany for Saturday’s Sweet 16 game against fifth-seeded Colorado, having scored 1,113 points this season and 3,830 points in 135 career games.

“You don’t want to get emotional, you don’t want to get emotional,” she told me. “I wish I could have stayed on the court a little longer.”

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