Dowling Catholic's Caitlin Clark named 2020 All-Iowa Girls' Athlete of the Year
Brent Clark remembers when Caitlin Clark first learned how to ride her bike.
He and his wife, Anne, were teaching their eldest son, Blake, who was around 6 or 7 at the time, how to ride his bike.
Then, Blake recalls, Caitlin came outside to join the fun.
"She just goes and grabs her bike and starts zipping around on it at the age of 4," Clark said with a laugh. "I think she just has a natural, God-given talent in terms of athletics."
Fast-forward 14 years, and Caitlin Clark has already moved into her dorm at the University of Iowa, starting her much-anticipated basketball career as a Hawkeye. Clark leaves Dowling Catholic as one of the most decorated girls' basketball players this state has ever seen. She was an All-Iowa Elite Team member again for the third time in a row this past winter after leading the state with 33.7 points per game. On the recruiting trail, she was a consensus five-star, top-10 nationally ranked recruit with the likes of Notre Dame and other national powerhouse programs in hot pursuit.
For her truly historic dominance on the hardwood, Clark has been named the Register's 2019-20 All-Iowa Girls' Athlete of the Year on Thursday. Cedar Falls volleyball's Akacia Brown and Ankeny softball and swimming's Jasmine Rumley were the other finalists.
"That was always my goal," Clark told the Register of her success at Dowling. "I’m one of those people that sets my goals really high; I don't ever want to set the bar low for myself. I’d rather set it high and not get there just so I have something to work toward and work hard for. I have big dreams and big goals for myself, no matter what it is — not just in basketball, but anything in life."
Clark was the type of player who drew a crowd wherever she went. Home and road games, alike, were packed with Iowans wanting to see Clark show off her rare skills.
She was also the type of player who drew double- and triple-teams whenever she played. Still, thanks to her Team USA-level talent, Clark was still able to put up gaudy numbers night in and night out while shooting 50.9% overall and just under 40% from 3-point range.
The current Hawkeye freshman also logged a team-high four assists per game.
"There are probably a lot of younger players out there now that are wanting to be like her a little bit — certainly on the Iowa level. That’s pretty neat," Brent Clark said. "She just has a real strong belief in herself, first and foremost. She’s just determined. I think she just has a lot of self-confidence. I think she believes that she can maybe lift up her teammates with the way she plays. And I think she likes that idea."
Clark loves being a role model to younger kids and talking to them when they approach her after games. She said it still feels a bit odd to be in such a position, because it seems like yesterday that she was a little girl idolizing her cousins and their teammates playing varsity basketball for the Maroons.
Beyond her athletic achievements, Clark said she wants to remembered as a high school athlete who truly cared about what she did.
"A passionate person that inspired other people and inspired little girls to love basketball, (and someone who) brought attention to women’s basketball and was a good teammate," Clark said. "And somebody that younger kids could look up to and want to be like that some day. Just (someone) who made people excited about women’s basketball."
Part of the reason Clark committed to Iowa over a host of national powerhouse programs was because she wanted the chance to build her legacy in her home state.
"Her goal is to really take Iowa to another level if she can," Brent Clark said. "It’s not going to be easy, but I think you’ve got to commend anyone if they want to achieve that sort of goal.
"Why not dream big? That’s what we all should do, really. So I’m proud of her."
In another world, maybe Clark is playing soccer at Iowa. She started on varsity soccer her freshman and sophomore years at Dowling before choosing to focus on basketball her final two years.
In this world, Hawkeye basketball fans are certainly glad she picked the hardwood.
Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.
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