In defeat, these Hawkeyes show us the Iowans we ought to strive to be

Hold your heads up high, Hawkeyes.

Let the tears fall if you need to, but don’t let there be a droplet of shame in them.

The Iowa women’s basketball team lost to Louisiana State in the national championship game.

That’s hard.

They were so close to the top.

They could almost feel the scissors in their hands ready to cut down the nets.

It didn’t happen.

LSU beat them.

They lost a game, but don’t think for a minute they are losers.

These Hawkeyes lifted us all up.

Iowa is an overlooked place, and we, as a people, are insecure about it.

We are not an epicenter for media, sports, or entertainment.

(This is probably why it’s so nice to live here.)

Everyone, though, wants to feel important.

They want to feel seen.

And who made Iowa feel more seen in all the ways we want to be seen than the Hawkeyes women’s basketball team this season?

No other candidates need apply.

You put together one of the best sports seasons in Iowa history.

Iowans will talk about it with the same vigor as the 1980 Iowa men’s trip to the Final Four or the 1969 Drake Final Four team.

Caitlin Clark, that tall, limber, wispy, lithe Dowling Catholic graduate made a nation sit up and take notice: The best in the country is right there in the middle.

Do you understand how much Iowans love this team?

You lifted us all up.

In the depths of the cold, dark winter and in the spring when tornadoes roared across the state, you Hawkeyes went out there and marched through the madness and made it to the championship game.

We wish you could bring that trophy home with you almost as much as you do.

Oh, how we wish that.

But the absence of hardware in no way diminishes our love for you.

Take Clark.

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

Wowzers. There’s a 21-year-old woman with the right perspective.

Fret not, Ms. Clark, you and your Hawkeyes brought us so much joy — even this broken down, grumpy old Drake man.

Does she want a title?

Of course.

But that’s not what came to her mind when she was at the table, in front of the microphone, with the world watching.

No, Clark is talking about other people.

The woman lives like she plays: She makes her own offense, and she helps others score with equal vigor.

She brushed off attempts by reporters to drag her into some divisive debate about whether LSU’s Angel Reese taunted her by mimicking some of Clark’s goofy gestures after the game and tapping her ring finger to indicate she was a champion.

“Honestly, I have no idea,” Clark said. “I was just trying to get into the handshake line.”


Clark swished it again.

If anybody is still worried about this taunting, the only person who has any right to be offended about it just said it doesn’t matter.

Move on people who want to turn the final moments of this beautiful season into yet another quest to express outrage on social media and virtue signal about who has more class and dignity.

Follow Clark.

Or listen to Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder: “We are all different people and we all different ways to show our emotions.”

Clear message: Let it go.

While we’re on the subject, always listen to Bluder.

There were some rough calls in the game.

OK, let’s just say it: Some of them were downright abominations.

A reporter asked the coach about the fouls, one of which included an incomprehensible technical foul on Clark.

Bluder mostly swallowed her tongue and held back her clear disappointment.

“It’s too bad,” Bluder said with a shrug. “It’s just too bad.”

Did she want to say more?


OK, definitely.

But it would have changed nothing.

She was there to comfort her team, not get “likes” on social media for being glib.

Bluder is the Iowan we all want to be: smart, level-headed, funny, hard-working, centered, and kind.

She’s the template for the person we should all be striving to be.

She summed up this beautiful Hawkeyes women’s basketball team better than I ever could.

“They know they’re role models,” Bluder said. “They relish in it and not just for young kids either. This team has brightened the lives of so many people of all ages.”

Middle school teacher Daniel P. Finney is a Marion County Express columnist.

Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.


  1. Sharon Pilmer says:

    This is so eloquent. It deserves a wide, wide audience. Thank you for putting our emotions and reactions into words. I wish this were shareable.  And as a fellow Register refugee, I am so sad and angry that columns like yours were deemed not clickbait worthy. At the same time, today’s DMR has become such an insult to a once-great and highly influential institution, no one that isn’t a true believer that clicks should drive coverage should be happy to have escaped, whether willingly or not. I feel for what you’ve been through since your departure…but I believe your life would be even worse if you had avoided the chopping block. It has truly become the Burger King of journalism.


    1. D sapp says:

      I think that Iowa girls basketball team was liked by the whole United States of America for for it’s hard work, and honest and goodwill that those young ladies put out to all the younger generation that they come in contact with


  2. rflaspohler says:

    Agree 💯 ! All of the IA team g leadership are a class act & should get the sportsmanship recognition they deserve. Back in the day it was about both winning & sportsmanship.

    Rosalie Flaspohler


  3. Nancy Bustin says:

    I just loved watching them!


  4. Chris says:

    So good to see you’re still at it Dan. A great viewpoint from you (which is normal)! A Winterset fan.


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