Caitlin Clark expresses to fans, “This venue will forever feel like home to me,” as she bids farewell to Iowa

Published Categorized as News No Comments on Caitlin Clark expresses to fans, “This venue will forever feel like home to me,” as she bids farewell to Iowa
Caitlin Clark

Caitlin Clark had her final chance to bid farewell to Iowa fans on Wednesday, and there was a big crowd waiting for her, as expected.

Clark, who became the top scorer in major college basketball history this season and was named the national player of the year, was honored alongside her teammates in a celebration at Iowa’s home arena to recognize the Hawkeyes’ second consecutive runner-up finish in the NCAA Tournament.

Addressing the approximately 8,000 fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Clark expressed her gratitude, saying, “I would say you’ve all inspired me as much as I inspired you. You allowed me to live out my dream every single day, and for that, I’m very thankful. It’s been very special, and this place will always be home to me.”

Expected to be chosen as the top pick by the Indiana Fever in Monday’s WNBA Draft, Clark concluded her collegiate career with an impressive record of 3,951 points and 1,144 assists, earning All-American honors every season.

Her journey began playing in front of small crowds during her freshman year due to attendance restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Caitlin Clark

As a testament to her remarkable career, Clark received a standing ovation when Iowa’s athletics director, Beth Goetz, announced that her jersey number 22 will be retired, making her the third player in program history to receive this honor.

“Goetz told Clark that the fans really like her,” Bluder said after the announcement.

Clark expressed her gratitude, saying, “It’s amazing and something I’m very thankful for. Many great players wore the number 22 before me, like Kathleen Doyle or Sam Logic. This number has a lot of history, and I’m honored. It will be a special day when my jersey is retired.”

Coach Bluder reflected on the Hawkeyes’ consecutive appearances in the national championship game, calling them “special.” She added, “This year was particularly special because no one believed we could do it again, except for the players.”

The large turnout for the event was not unexpected, considering the Hawkeyes’ ability to attract big crowds throughout the season.

Iowa sold out every home game, with 238,620 fans attending during the regular season. Additionally, 55,646 fans attended the “Crossover at Kinnick” outdoor exhibition game in October at Kinnick Stadium, setting a women’s basketball attendance record.

The two NCAA tournament games hosted by Iowa were also sold out, with a weekend attendance of 28,764, making it the highest attendance of any first-weekend site in the women’s tournament.

“Please return next year,” Bluder requested. “Please pack Carver-Hawkeye Arena next year.” Fans lined up outside the arena over two hours before the event began, rushing to grab seats when the doors opened.

Angie Leyh from the Atlantic, Iowa, brought her 10-year-old daughter Lana, who was celebrating her birthday, to the event.

Caitlin Clark (Credits: SportsBible)

Although the Leyhs had only attended one game this season — Iowa’s NCAA Tournament opener against Holy Cross — when Angie saw that the event coincided with her daughter’s birthday, they decided to make the three-hour drive to attend.

“We were willing to drop everything to ensure she could be here,” Leyh said as her daughter held up a sign with her birthday wishes, hoping to meet Clark, get an autograph, or take a photo. “This is all incredible.”

After the event, Clark walked around the arena floor signing autographs, a tradition she has maintained throughout her career. She shared during the event how she and her two brothers looked up to athletes while growing up.

“I aspired to be like them,” she said. “They were the ones who allowed me to dream and experience moments like this.” Leyh understood the significance of the Hawkeyes’ recent achievements for her daughter, whose sign also read, “I want to be just like you.” “It’s a dream come true, and it’s inspiring her to dream even bigger,” Leyh said.


By Ritik

Ritik Katiyar is pursuing a post-graduate degree in Pharmaceutics. Currently, he lives in Srinagar, Uttarakhand, India. You can find him writing about all sorts of listicle topics. A pharmaceutical postgrad by day, and a content writer by night. You can write to him at [email protected]

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *