April 11, 2024 

Locked On Women’s Basketball: Lynette Woodard talks Caitlin Clark, AIAW and merging past with present

'Something that we've been praying for, asking for, knocking on the door for, it was happening in real time'

On today’s episode of Locked On Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer Lynette Woodard joined host Howard Megdal to talk about Caitlin Clark and the process of merging the past and present of women’s basketball. Woodard, who previously held the Division I women’s scoring record, played at Kansas from 1977–81 under the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW). She was a member of the 1984 Olympic women’s basketball team and was selected by the Cleveland Rockers during the 1997 WNBA Elite Draft.

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First, the they discussed how Clark has helped elevate women’s basketball, and what the increasing recognition of the sport and its players means to Woodard.

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“I love the game of basketball. I still love the game of basketball. I played it from a child. I play it today, Howard, no one knows. I go to the gym by myself. And I can shoot and shoot all my problems away,” Woodard explained. “I’ll share with you what Caitlin did for the game, but let me tell you what she did for me, personally … how she started out her question to me, actually was a statement. Caitlin said, ‘If it wasn’t for you, [I] wouldn’t be here.’ No, no, no, no, I backed her up right away. No, if it wasn’t for Caitlin, I would not be here because our history was buried by the NCAA. Not only did she elevate the game, she resurrected the past. Okay, we got caught up in the rapture of her excellence. I was so glad to be there. I was so glad of what Coach Bluder said, because she understood she came from. I just saw it as a moment in time that God was bringing everything together, something that we’ve been praying for, asking for, knocking on the door for, it was happening in real time,” she continued.

Then, the two discussed the difficulties of bringing together the past and current histories of women’s basketball together. Woodard spoke about her experience playing in the AIAW, and what it meant to see her history become intwined with modern NCAA history after Clark broke her long-standing scoring record.

“The merging became so personal. I feel chills even now thinking of it … I was sitting waiting to go into the locker room just on the side just watching everything that was going on at center court … then someone tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Would you like to meet Caitlin?’,” Woodard said. “… And so I walked [onto the court], I waited, Caitlin was chatting with someone and I was just standing there. But then we met. Okay. Wow. I walked across the bridge. Howard we met! I looked at her, she looked at me. I just embraced her for everything she had done for us.”

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“When I got home, I felt it. But when I saw it on a photograph, it hit me like a ton of bricks. This is the merger. The AIAW, the past that came and met the present in the center court of Carver where oh my god, [Iowa’s first female athletic director, who hired C. Vivian Stringer and Gayle Blevins] Christine Grant would have been smiling. Clapping. She had to be watching. No doubt,” Woodard said.

They also discussed the importance of keeping and merging records across the AIAW and NCAA, Woodard’s pro career, and much more. Make sure to subscribe to the Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast to keep learning about the WNBA, women’s college basketball, basketball history and much more!

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