Caitlin Clark's faith family proud

April 3, 2023

Caitlin Clark

Caitlin Clark took her home state—and fans far beyond—on a thrilling ride to the University of Iowa women’s basketball team’s first appearance in the national championship game.

Though the Hawkeyes fell to Louisiana State University, Clark and her team demonstrated traits that her Catholic school alma maters—St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School and Dowling Catholic High School, both in West Des Moines—try to instill in all of their students: teamwork and good sportsmanship.

“Catholic education is about formation of the whole person, not just the mind,” said her pastor, Father Joe Pins, of St. Francis Parish. “Obviously athletics is a big part of that as well.”

In a postgame broadcast interview April 2, Clark talked about how her playing, which attracted national attention, affects the next generation of players.

“I want my legacy to be the impact that I have on young kids and the people in the state of Iowa,” she said. “I hope I brought them a lot of joy this season.”

Boy, did she!

“We’re just loving this,” said Shelley Goodell. She and a few dozen St. Francis parishioners gathered at St. Francis Parish March 31 to watch Clark’s Hawkeyes upset top-ranked South Carolina in the Final Four. 

“There could not be a more perfect place to cheer her on than the place of her origin and the place where it all started,” Goodell said. “She’s confident. She’s a team player. She’s very humble. I think she represents what’s best about being raised in the Catholic faith. She really is the perfect role model for all the kids.”

Students at St. Francis School see Clark succeeding on the court and are amazed she walked the same halls they do, said parent Maggie DeWitte. Last Friday, the school celebrated their alumna by lining the halls and clapping, which they typically do for graduating students.

“It was just a good memory for those kids,” she said.

Dowling Catholic celebrated their alumna before the weekend games by declaring March 31 – the day of the Final Four game – Caitlin Clark Day, with students invited to wear Hawkeye or Dowling Catholic clothing.

Chris Doud brought his kids to the St. Francis fish fry and Stations of the Cross, then capped off the evening with the Final Four watch party at the parish to see Clark play.

“She seems to be pretty humble about it, and she’s a fierce competitor,” Doud said. “It’s fun to watch it.”

Clark was commended for spending time after games signing autographs and posing for pictures.

“She’s so good about recognizing kids after games,” said Annette Wanek, of St. Francis Parish.

Not only is she a role model for young women, Clark has elevated the visibility of women’s basketball overall, said Jim Wanek.

“Quite a few people are following her and commenting on her skills and ability,” he said.

Father Pins said parishioners are just happy that the Clark family is a part of the parish faith family.

“I think we’re all very proud of the young lady whose made a great name for herself and worked hard and is dedicated,” he said.