Dengler Domain: Caitlin Clark

Growing up, I was an Iowa State Cyclones fan through and through. Then I became a Northern Iowa Panther so being an Iowa Hawkeyes fan has never been on my radar. I will even root for the Drake Bulldogs over the Iowa Hawkeyes, but my stance has softened with Caitlin Clark.

She is on another level. Like other basketball fans who had not watched Caitlin Clark, thought, “She cannot be as good as advertised.” There is too much hype but after watching her beat the undefeated, undisputed number one overall team, the South Carolina Gamecocks, who had won forty-two games in a row, I was wrong. Every time she touched the basketball, she made the right decision. She sees the game on another level whether it is her quick shooting from the half court logo or finding the right pass in the smallest space. She has a stone-cold assassin approach to her game.

While she and the other Hawkeyes could not take down the Louisiana State University Tigers in the championship game despite the referees’ best efforts, the Tigers ultimately played well enough to deserve the win. The state of Iowa is lucky to have her talent and she chose to stay at one of the Iowa universities. No matter what happens during the rest of her career, her lore will live on for decades.

She reminds me of when Steph Curry was in the NCAA tournament many years ago. His roster was worse, but it did not matter. His ball handling and shooting skills were unlike anyone else in college basketball at the time. He was a different player and a complete unicorn compared to everyone else. He also enjoyed playing the game while always being the top competitor on the court. After a few tough years in the NBA due to injuries and bad coaching, his unique type of basketball skills made him the standard bearer for a new generation of basketball fans.

Caitlin Clark has already started down this path. Her sensational play has brought new eyeballs to the women’s game. She can inspire young fans not to be like Mike or Steph, but to be like Caitlin. She also recognizes the role she plays for new fans. She has done a wonderful job showing confidence, humility, and helping to promote the game as much as she can.

If Caitlin Clark’s career keeps going on the path it has been, she has a bright future ahead. It has already been astonishing to see what she has accomplished. Great Iowans who grace the national stage do not come across it often. It is a special moment. For Iowans, whether a Cyclone, Panther, Bulldog, Hawkeye, or anything in between, she is something we can all take pride in her success.

Sean Dengler is a writer, comedian, farmer, and host of the Pandaring Talk podcast who grew up on a farm between Traer and Dysart. You can reach him at sean.h.dengler@gmail.com.