Women’s History Month: Top moments in Minnesota women’s sports this season

MINNEAPOLIS — Caitlin Clark captured the hearts of many this year, particularly young girls who look up to her. Throughout the season, Clark set records across the country and right here in Minnesota.

First, she became the highest-scoring woman in NCAA history, then she achieved the feat of being the highest-scoring player of all time in the NCAA. She even surpassed NBA star Steph Curry’s NCAA 3-point record.

The “Caitlin Clark Effect” led to sold-out arenas nationwide, including at Williams Arena in Minnesota and during the Women’s Big 10 Tournament, which was the first time a women’s basketball tournament had ever sold out.

“It’s incredible to see the increased support for women’s basketball, and I hope it continues to grow,” said Olivia Olson, a Benilde-St.Margaret’s basketball player and Michigan commit.

While Clark stole the spotlight, she also shared it with numerous other female athletes. The Nebraska Volleyball team filled a 90,000-seat football stadium for one of their home games in August 2023. Eagan native Kennedi Orr was part of this historic achievement.

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“I would say it’s pretty indescribable. I still don’t know how to describe how I was feeling, except super surreal,” said Orr.

As the new year began, a new professional women’s hockey league hit the ice. The PWHLMinnesota home opener at the Xcel Energy Center attracted 13,316 fans, setting a record for the largest attendance at a professional women’s hockey game.

“We’re part of history. This was a significant day in Minnesota hockey history, and we were there,” said Katie Channing, who attended the game with her daughter.

In the realm of women’s and girls’ hockey, Minnesota leads the way with over 14,000 players, surpassing any other state by 2,500 participants.

Records were also being broken at the high school level. St.Croix Lutheran Academy’s Laura Hauge set the state’s girls basketball 3-point scoring record with 459 career 3-pointers before her senior season was halfway through.

“It was surreal. I made it on my first 3-shot, so that made it easy,” said Hauge.

Meanwhile, down south in Northfield, sophomore Caley Graber became the first girl to defeat a boy in the state wrestling tournament and the first girl to medal at the boys’ state tournament, securing 5th place.

“It’s amazing to be one of those few girls who can compete against boys because it’s really tough to compete with them,” said Graber.

If you’ve underestimated dance as a sport, think again. The University of Minnesota dance team captivated millions this year with their viral national jazz routine. They clinched their 22nd national championship title in 2024, the most of any NCAA sport at the U of M.

“The appreciation for all the hard work these athletes are putting in, often without much recognition, is immense,” said Amanda Gaines, head coach of the U of M dance team.

As Caitlin Clark took the court at Target Center earlier in March in front of 20,000 fans, an overflow crowd found space in a unique watch bar in south Minneapolis. Jillian Hiscock opened A Bar of Their Own just in time for the Women’s Big 10 Tournament, dedicated to showing women’s sports on their screens year-round. The demand evident in the crowd speaks volumes.

“People have been anticipating and waiting for this for a long time, so having it here and people inside means a lot,” said Hiscock.

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