UConn’s Paige Bueckers and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark: Faith on Collegiate Hardwood

Both the men’s and women’s upcoming NCAA Final Four weekends will drop the curtain on this year’s basketball season, an annual event that draws millions.

On the men’s side, top-seeded Connecticut and Purdue, along with Alabama and longshot North Carolina State will be in Phoenix beginning on Saturday.

The Women’s Final Four kicks off Friday in Cleveland and will feature top-seeded South Carolina squaring off against North Carolina States and number one Iowa matching up against UConn.

The latter women’s contest featuring the Iowa Hawkeyes and the UConn Huskies will generate the most eyeballs on Friday. That’s because the matchup will feature Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer, and UConn superstar Paige Bueckers.

For those of us who like to root for athletes who use their platforms to both honor and bring glory to God, the Clark/Buecker semi-final game is both good news and bad news.

The good news is both Caitlin Clark and Paige Bueckers haven’t been shy about their faith.

The bad news is one of them will have to lose this coming weekend.

Caitlin Clark, who is Catholic, is a member of St. Francis of Assisi in West Des Moines. Kristin Meyer, who was Clark’s high school coach at Dowling Catholic High School, told reporters that her former standout player “knows that those gifts [of hers are] from God [and] are an opportunity to bring joy to other people.”

Clark has previously spoken about how much she enjoyed playing basketball and going to school where she could openly and unapologetically live out her faith.

After Monday night’s win that sent UConn to the Final Four, Paige Bueckers told ESPN,

“I’m a living testimony. I give all glory to God. He sent me trials and tribulations, but it was to build my character. I kept on believing. I did all I could so God could do all I can’t.”

Coming into this season, Bueckers had endured a 584-day hiatus from basketball after suffering a tibial plateau fracture and lateral meniscus tear. At the time of the injury, she wrote on Instagram:

“It’s hard trying to make sense of it all now but I can’t help but think that God is using me as a testimony as to how much you can overcome with Him by your side.
As she healed and rejoined the team, the Minnesota native reflected in an interview with ESPN:

“Part of me thinks it was God calling me to use this [experience]. I feel like I’m just gonna have a great story to tell by the end of it. Just being able to look at [my injury] not as an obstacle but just a wave of adversity — just something that I can get through. And God, He didn’t promise that there wouldn’t be obstacles, but He did promise that He would be there every step of the way.”

Christian players appear increasingly comfortable using both their social media platforms and traditional television outlets to express their faith and serve as a witness and example.

“I give all glory to God, all glory to my coaching staff, and my teammates for instilling that confidence within me just to have fun and play my game,” Paige Bueckers said the other night.

It’s encouraging and refreshing to see young athletes expressing their faith, isn’t it?

Many will be watching this weekend. Time will tell who wins on the court, but both Clark and Bueckers will continue to win off of it if they maintain and deepen their faith in Jesus Christ.


Images from Getty.

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