A Tale Of Two Titans

For those that didn’t watch the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship or maybe have been living under a rock and have never heard the names Caitlin Clark or Dawn Staley…I’m here to clue you in to how these women are excellent examples of demonstrating grace in both winning or losing.

As most of the world knows, Caitlin Clark, is a 6’ guard for the Iowa Hawkeyes women’s basketball team. She has broken numerous records during her collegiate run (18 to be exact) and led her team to the National Championship including setting the all-time NCAA assist record and becoming the first Division 1 college basketball player to have 3,000+ points, 900+ assists, and 800+ rebounds – of any woman or man. Additionally, Clark broke the record for single-season three-pointers and became the highest-scoring player in college women’s basketball history after scoring her 3,650th point, surpassing Lynette Woodward. Dawn Staley is a superstar in her own right. Staley has been the SC head coach since 2008 after a very successful playing career. Staley won 3 Olympic gold medals as a player and one as the team coach, as well as being inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012 and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.

Before we get into the gushy, praise doting commentary to come, we have to first take a look at the pregame discussion regarding Clark’s “Greatest Of All Time” GOAT status to understand the pressure mounting on the shoulders of the Iowa guard to win.

In an interview prior to the game, Dawn Staley was quoted by Yahoo Sports saying “If Caitlin wins the championship, she’s pretty damn good, yeah, like, she’s a GOAT.  I mean, she’s really damn good regardless. But winning the championship would seal the deal. I hope to the dear Lord she doesn’t.” Fellow record breakers chimed in also stating Clark would only be considered a GOAT if she wins a National Championship. “Yeah. She does. I think so,” four-time UConn champion Breanna Stewart told Sirius XM from USA Basketball camp Friday, “Because then you’re going to look 10 years back and you’re going to see all the records she’s broken and the points and stuff like that, but anybody knows your goal when you play college basketball is to win a national championship. So you need one.”

Despite scoring a whopping 30 points, the Hawkeyes fell short. Rather, an undefeated Coach Dawn Staley and her South Carolina Gamecocks arose as victors. What people may not realize is, that SC team was primarily built of previously second-string players, as they lost 5 starters to season sending injuries. Both Clark and the Hawkeyes, and the undefeated Gamecocks, had an insurmountable amount of pressure riding on all their shoulders coming into this game.

Now that you have a general idea of the importance of the players engaged in the game that unfolded before us on Sunday night, you can better appreciate the post-game interviews by both Clark and Staley that followed.

As captured in her post game statements, “I want to personally thank Caitlin Clark for lifting up our sport,” Staley said. “She carried a heavy load for our sport and it’s just not going to stop here on the collegiate tour, but when she is the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft, she’s going to lift that league up as well. Caitlin Clark, if you’re out there, you are one of the GOATs of our game and we appreciate you.”

Rarely have you heard an opposing coach in collegiate National Championship personally praise a player and not only the impact they made during their college tenure but also the impact they will make as they head into their professional career.

In response during her post-game interview, Clark was asked what Staley’s comments meant to her. She in return recognizes the Gamecocks coach not only for what she did for South Carolina as a coach but her impact as a player, noting “anytime you can get the praises of hers, is pretty special. It means a lot.”

Whether considered the GOAT or not, no one can deny the fact that Caitlin Clark has opened the door for a whole new generation of fans for women’s sports and Dawn Staley has set the bar for how to demonstrate grace for coaches all over the world.

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2 Replies to “A Tale Of Two Titans”

  1. First of all, thanks BCole for chiming in and reminding everyone that not only is SC (SportsChump, not South Carolina) a website by the people and for the people, but that there are ways how to act in sports that far too few people follow.

    Deac, not to be outdone, how about the fact that the women’s final game was ESPN’s most watched basketball game in years. That includes both the men’s college game and NBA.

    While I’m sure Commissioner Silver was happy with the potential increased viewership of the WNBA, I can’t imagine he’s none too pleased that people aren’t watching his sport.

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