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Iowa star Caitlin Clark: Fame is ‘so cool’ but can get ‘tiring’

Iowa's Caitlin Clark high-fives fans after an exhibition game against Clarke University on Oct. 22. (JOSEPH CRESS/USA TODAY NETWORK)

Caitlin Clark knows the role she has in women’s basketball, and it’s something that she embraces.

But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get a little bit tiring at times.

The Iowa basketball guard had a busy offseason: traveling for national awards, playing at the John Deere Classic Pro-Am, eating cake with Jake from State Farm, having a butter statue at the Iowa State Fair. And last month, she and the Hawkeyes played an exhibition game in front of a record crowd outside at Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium.

All of that came after an incredible year on the court, which included sweeping national player of the year awards, taking Iowa to its first national championship game and being one of the nation’s top scorers. As a result, her celebrity has skyrocketed.

“This has been my dream,” Clark told ESPN. “Maybe I didn’t understand I would get such a big spotlight, but this is the level I wanted to play on.”

She understands her impact. After all, she’s been that little girl clamoring for just one second with the player that she idolized.

Still, Clark feels the effects of her newfound fame. She often has teammates, friends or family accompanying her when she is out and about, and it can be a little bit hard to come to terms with her new reality.

“I feel like I was just a freshman and I was playing in front of no one. It was just our families that were sitting over there,” Clark told the Associated Press. “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.

“I don’t think it’s an inconvenience at all,” she added. “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.”

And those around her know that she’s equipped to handle the pressure.

“I think if anybody can handle it, she can handle it,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder told ESPN. “The stars lined up right for her. She came around at the right time in the right place. With NIL, with becoming one of the faces of college basketball.”