Iowa star Caitlin Clark’s latest award makes 94-year history

Caitlin Clark won the same award in 2023

Indiana Fever player Caitlin Clark, with a trophy emoji

In an impressive update to her already remarkable career, Caitlin Clark, the shining star of Iowa women’s basketball, has once again etched her name into the annals of sports history. The Indiana Fever’s No. 1 WNBA Draft pick has become the first-ever athlete to clinch the AAU James E. Sullivan Award for a second consecutive year, a milestone that has not been reached in its 94-year history.

The Sullivan Award, awarded since  1930, is given annually to the nation’s top athlete across college and Olympic levels for not only their athletic excellence but also for embodying outstanding leadership, citizenship, character and sportsmanship. This year’s ceremony, held Tuesday at the New York Athletic Club, saw Clark’s high school coach, Kristin Meyer, accept the award on Clark’s behalf. The Iowa standout gave her acceptance speech via Zoom, per the Associated Press.

Clark’s groundbreaking achievement comes during her meteoric impact on women’s basketball, both on and off the court. Her unique play style, which includes deep three-point shots and flashy assists, has been a major draw for viewers nationwide. evident as a record 18.9 million people tuned in to watch Iowa’s NCAA title game against South Carolina. Not to mention a whopping 2.45 million watched the WNBA draft in which Clark was the top pick.

Her recognition as a dual recipient of the Sullivan Award places her in the company of past awardees like Bobby Jones, Bill Walton, Carl Lewis, Janet Evans, Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow and Missy Franklin. The accolade, alongside her numerous other awards such as the Wooden Award and recognitions from The Sporting News and the Associated Press, highlight Clark’s dominance in women’s college basketball.

Caitlin Clark’s impact on and off the court

owa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark (22) cuts down the net after beating LSU in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament between Iowa and LSU© Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK

In her speech, Clark expressed her gratitude and reflected on the influence of past winners,

“The AAU Sullivan Award is an incredible honor,” she said, per Ehsan Kassim of USA Today. “I have been inspired by so many athletes that came before me, and I hope I can be that same inspiration for the next generation to follow their dreams.”

The public, alongside the AAU Sullivan Award committee, AAU board of directors, sports media, and former winners, participated in the voting process that ultimately decided this year’s winner. Clark stood out among a field of finalists that included Olympic wrestler David Taylor, Olympic speed skater Emery Lehman, gymnast Frederick Richard, Texas volleyball player Madisen Skinner and Paralympic swimmer Noah Jaffe.

Clark is celebrated for her role in propelling Iowa women’s basketball to new heights. Under her leadership, the team made their third Final Four appearance and contended in the NCAA title game for the second consecutive year. Her career culminated as the all-time leading scorer in NCAA basketball history, with an impressive 3,951 points.

Off the court, Clark’s influence continues to grow. She recently signed a groundbreaking eight-year, $28 million endorsement deal with Nike, the most lucrative sponsorship agreement ever for a female basketball player.

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