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The Perennial

The Perennial

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Girls Basketball Gets Its Due

55,646 fans. Nationally-televised women’s basketball game. Iowa City, Iowa. Put it in the record books.

The roar of the Hawkeye crowd rings in the ears of every player, coach, and fan in Kinnick Stadium. As time wears off the clock and tip off approaches, anticipation builds and courses through the veins of everyone in the stands. Some break out in I-O-W-A chants, showing their Hawkeye pride; others take a moment to soak it all in, awestruck at the sight around them. Just as the team takes the court, the stadium erupts in boisterous applause, the cheerleading squad takes the field and the marching band plays a familiar tune.

From barely filling up one-third of a basketball arena to consistently selling out stadiums across the nation, women’s basketball is finally getting the recognition it deserves.

Amidst the chaos at Kinnick, the players warming up on the court search for a second of silence to not only recenter themselves and prepare for their game ahead but also to appreciate this moment for what it was — history in the making. History for women’s basketball, history for women’s sports and history for all the little girls watching in the crowd or behind their screens at home.

It wasn’t long ago when I was that little girl staring up at the T.V, teeming with excitement, and idolizing every player I saw. The Arike Ogunbowales and Napheesa Colliers of the world were my heroes. Now, sitting here in the same spot as I did so many years ago and watching Iowa University senior Caitlin Clark light it up in front of 55,646 fans felt surreal. Even though I wasn’t there to see it in person, I felt so connected to the fans and so in tune with the game because they understood the magnitude of this moment. It wasn’t just another game; it was a culmination of years and years of work that the generations before us dedicated to promoting the sport, and it was finally paying off.

As the same I-O-W-A chants blared through my T.V screen again, chills crept over my body. It all felt like deja vu, and a huge smile spread across my face as Clark reminded the world of her greatness once again. She weaved through defenders, kissed the ball off the glass for a beautiful finish and orchestrated a perfect pick-and-roll, assisting Iowa to victory and dancing her way to a casual triple-double.

Despite what it seems, Clark is not a one-man show. What makes Iowa truly great and such a joy to watch is their competitiveness, unwillingness to back down to bigger, more talented teams and their unselfishness across the board. Every player buys into their role and plays it tremendously, resulting in phenomenal team synergy and cohesion. These qualities make it so easy to root for a team like Iowa. And no, I’m not a bandwagon. I’m simply a fan who appreciates good basketball.

Although good basketball may look different for every viewer, one thing almost everyone can agree on is the greatness of this new generation of players. The talent and skill level in the women’s game is currently at an all time high, and thankfully, this hasn’t gone unnoticed. From WNBA all-stars like Sabrina Ionescu coming out with her first Nike signature shoe, the Sabrina 1, to the local expansion of the WNBA with a new team coming to the Bay Area in 2025, the future of women’s basketball is in good hands.

That’s why this outdoor game at Kinnick Stadium was more than just a game to me. Today, it serves as a reminder of how far women’s sports has come in the past couple of years. If you told my younger self, that little girl looking up at the T.V with wondrous eyes, that almost 10 million people were rejoicing in women’s basketball at once, she wouldn’t have believed you. Not for one second. If you told her that a local hero in Ionescu came out with her own shoes, she would’ve stood with her mouth agape one second and pranced around the next. Seven years ago, I didn’t think this was possible, but now, it’s becoming our reality.

This is why reminiscing on the scene at Kinnick brings me an indescribable sense of happiness. The joy the Iowa women’s basketball team exhibits is exactly what our girls team is trying to replicate here at Pinewood. Playing with intensity, a love for the game and something bigger than ourselves. That’s what will separate us this season, and I can’t wait for everyone on campus to not only witness it, but be a part of it as well. So, join us in the Panther Pit this season. We want to hear your chants, your spirit and your passion. We want you to be a part of what we’re creating.

Because if Iowa can do it, why can’t we? Why not us?

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