Ever since the Iowa women's basketball team's legendary run in the 2023 NCAA Division 1 women's tournament — which culminated with a 102-85 defeat to the LSU Tigers in the national championship game — Caitlin Clark, Iowa's star player, has become the state's unofficial First Lady.
Clark's likeness was sculptured out of butter at the Iowa state fair, she was the main draw at a pro-am golf event (her preferred hobby), Iowa's marching band formed the image of her iconic #22 jersery during halftime of a football game, and fans waited 10 hours in order to meet her at a minor-league baseball game — not to mention many, many other media obligations since Iowa's season ended.
Due to all this attention, Clark — who is now one of America's most famous female athletes — has learned that celebrity status can also be a burden.
In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Clark said, "I feel like I was just a freshman and I was playing in front of no one. Now I play in front of a sold-out arena, everybody screaming at me after games begging for my autograph. Whenever I go out in public, people always know who I am, so it can get tiring at times."
Although Clark — who grew up in West Des Moines, two hours away from Iowa's campus — also noted that she appreciates the adoration.
"It's something you would never take for granted because it's so cool. The position I get to be in and the things I get to do, and the amount of joy that I've brought people.... I feel like I'm the same person I've been ever since I stepped on campus. But my life has changed so much."
Clark's newfound fame is only in its first phase. Her Iowa Hawkeyes are ranked #3 in the nation headed into the 2023-24 season (which starts on November 6th), and Clark — last season's AP Player of the Year, who has averaged 27.3 points per game in her Iowa career — is set up for an incredible senior season.
Clark has made it clear that she doesn't know what her next step will be once her senior season ends. She could either declare for the 2024 WNBA Draft (where she's almost guaranteed to be the first overall pick), or she could return for a fifth season at Iowa.
Regardless of what Clark decides to do, hopefully she can become more acclimated to her celebrity status. More fame and acclaim is coming Clark's way.
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