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In second grade, Caitlin Clark wrote down her WNBA dreams. Now, they’ll finally come true.


In second grade, Caitlin Clark wrote a note to herself, compiling her goals for the future.

“Get a basketball scholarship, play in the WNBA,” Clark recalled the note saying.

On Monday, her dreams will come true: She is poised to be selected by the Indiana Fever as the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft, launching her professional career in the sport she dominated for the last four years as an Iowa Hawkeye, sinking 3-pointers and breaking records.

“I think more than anything I’m just really excited,” Clark told “TODAY” while spending the weekend in New York City, fresh off the NCAA championship game. She’s trying to “enjoy every single second” of this “whirlwind” year.

But Clark knows starting in the WNBA will be a challenge — a “good challenge for me,” she said, noting that she chose to end her college hoops career with one year of eligibility left to embark on “something new.”

“I hope my game translates to the next level,” said Clark, who broke the all-time scoring record in the NCAA this year. She expects there to be a learning curve when she takes the court in the pros, but she said she knows “there will be good vets around me that I’ll be able to lean on.”

Having for years served as a talisman for Iowa, Clark said she’s looking forward to relying on her future teammates and not having to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders all the time.

Even though high expectations aren’t going to change as Clark enters the pros, “that’s what you want” when you “want to be one of the best players in the world,” she said.

She may well be on her way to becoming one of the world’s top players, but none of it is an accident.

Those long 3s she’s known for? “Those are shots, like, I practice and work on every single day,” Clark said. “It’s not like I just take the court for a game and just start launching those.

“But I think always I’ve had confidence in myself,” she said. “And so just carrying that and being confident in all the work I’ve put in in the moments and knowing that I’ve earned to be in this moment, that’s always kind of what I remind myself, is, you know, ‘You’re not here by accident.’ Like, it’s all the hard work that you put in. And that’s what led you to this.”

Her hard work might also lead her to the Olympics this summer in Paris, where she could earn a spot on the U.S. women’s basketball team to represent her country on the international stage.

Clark said it would “mean everything” to her to be on the team.

“That’s, like, one of my dreams as a kid growing up. You always want to be an Olympic gold medalist,” she said.

‘The reason you do it’

Aside from the multiple records broken on the court and the viewership records set in her games, Clark has been inspiring swarms of young girls — who show up courtside desperate for autographs or selfies — to launch their own basketball careers.

“I think that’s, like, the reason you do it,” Clark said.

“One, like, I love playing basketball. But, two, also getting to inspire the next generation,” she continued. “I grew up loving basketball, loving soccer. Like, the people I idolized in my life were, you know, either professional women’s basketball players, professional soccer players, and that’s what I wanted to be growing up.”

For Clark, understanding “how big of an impact that can have on a young girl’s life is super important. So I always try to make as much time as I can for them,” she said. “And just to see them scream your name or have your jersey on, that’s something that never gets old.”

When she was growing up, women’s basketball was always on TV in Clark’s house, she said. She said she always knew it “was really great,” so it surprises her that so many people are “new to the sport.”

Clark doesn’t take offense, though. Instead, she teases newcomers, letting them know they’re “late to the party.”

“It’s always been really good. There’s always been so many good players,” she said.

Clark thinks being able to play on a national stage, as well as social media and the introduction of the name, image and likeness policy in college sports — which allows collegiate athletes to make money from their personal brands — are all contributing to the rise of women’s basketball.

“But I think the best thing is, like, they’re here now,” Clark said of the new fans. “Like, let’s continue to bring them in and want them to keep coming back for more.”

Clark said she has heard the rumors that season tickets for the Indiana Fever are selling fast and that other teams are moving their venues so more people can watch her play, but she sees that as only another win for the WNBA — and women’s basketball — as a whole.

“I think it’s, you know, only going to help the league grow even more,” Clark said. “And obviously it’s at a place where it’s been really good. But the more people we can bring into the league, whether they’ve just been college fans and now they can be college basketball fans and WNBA fans, will only help the league to grow.”

In the days between closing out her college basketball career and turning pro, Clark took another opportunity to lift up women’s basketball in an appearance on “Saturday Night Live.”

In a cameo on the “Weekend Update” segment, she called out host Michael Che for dunking on women’s sports in the past. She also used the moment to mention all the women’s basketball greats who came before her.

Clark, who said she doesn’t get nervous for basketball games, said getting ready for “SNL” was “a little scary” and far more daunting than preparing for the national championship game on April 7, when Iowa fell to South Carolina.

At the end of the show, she invited fellow Hawkeyes Kate Martin and Gabbie Marshall up onstage for goodbyes. They’re moments like sharing the “SNL” stage with her teammates or the moments she shares with her family in between games that Clark said she treasures most.

“I think it’s just the little moments that a lot of people in the public don’t get to see,” she said. “That’s kind of what means the most to me.”


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