Women’s basketball popularity inspiring local hoopers

ALBANY, NY (NEWS10) — Girls run the world. Just ask Beyonce.

It’s certainly the truth in college basketball right now. “I know women’s sports have been looked down on in the past but it’s really cool because the spotlight is on us right now,” said Averill Park senior Taylor Holohan.

That spotlight will shine brightly on Albany this weekend during the NCAA Tournament Super Regional, with MVP Arena hosting Sweet 16 and Elite 8 matchups Friday through Monday. The headliner? The biggest name in sports – Iowa’s Caitlin Clark.

When it comes to college basketball’s all-time leading scorer, what’s not to like? “I love her competitiveness,” said former Syracuse standout Julie McBride, who now coaches a sixth grade AAU team, Team McBride. “I love that she uses her voice, she’s talking, she’s showing her emotions.”

“A lot of her half court shots, buzzer beaters, stuff like that,” said Ava Ernst, a sixth grader on Team McBride. “I really like how she moves the ball and she’s not a selfish player.”

Clark isn’t just setting records, she’s setting an example for the future stars of women’s hoops, including those right here in the 518. “She’s shown young girls like them like, ‘Hey I have to go to practice.’ They’ve been a different group this year,” said McBride. “I had them last year. They were giggly, silly. I get it, they were in the fifth grade. Now they’re older and they see the hard work that needs to go in. The focus, when they go to practice, the listening skills they need to get better.”

“Me and my dad, we go to the Ciccotti Center and we practice my form and stuff like that,” said sixth grader Keira Organ. “Watching Caitlin Clark, she teaches me how to shoot that three.”

Clark is on top of the college basketball world. She breaks TV rating records almost as frequently as she surpasses on-court milestones. But she isn’t carrying all the weight of the game by herself, and she certainly isn’t the only draw in Albany this weekend. “The women’s game is growing and evolving but it’s at warp speed right now,” said now former Saint Rose women’s basketball head coach Will Brown. “A lot of that is because of Caitlin Clark, but also let’s not forget what Dawn Staley has done at South Carolina, the personality of a Kim Mulkey at LSU who is a defending national champion, and the teams like Notre Dame, who are the ACC champs who no one is talking about. They’re good enough to win the region. If you’re a basketball fan it is must see basketball.”

The popularity of the women’s game has skyrocketed, reaching new heights. Seeing is believing, and seeing the growth of the game as a whole has helped young girls across the country believe that one day, it will be there turn. “At one point women’s sports weren’t even as popular as they are today and it’s really cool how much I’ve seen it grow,” said Ernst.

“It offers young ladies, high school athletes, middle school athletes the opportunity to identify with someone who can empower them and inspire them to work hard academically and athletically. I think it’s important for young women to see that.”

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