116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — Back in the days when the Clark siblings would play basement basketball, games would end in tears.
Or a trip to the emergency room.
Blake, Caitlin and Colin Clark, now all past the stage of giving each other head-splitting injuries, are respected athletes at their schools, with athleticism acting like a 79th organ.
It’s a constant part of their lives.
Their father, Brent Clark, was a multisport athlete at Simpson College, earning letters in baseball and basketball. Their maternal grandfather, Bob Nizzi, was a football coach at West Des Moines Dowling.
“We were always involved in sports and at home we were always around sports,” Blake said. “We watched sports at night whether we would go to Drake and watch basketball games, or watch cousins play their basketball games, or tournaments, when you’re just around something that much, it’s what you do, too.”
Blake is set to complete his redshirt junior season on the special teams for the Iowa State football team after at the Cheez-It Bowl against Clemson on Dec. 29.
Caitlin is in the midst of her second season as a guard on the Iowa women’s basketball team.
Colin is a multisport athlete at Dowling, participating in track and field and basketball.
Birth Order Based
Much like “The Birth Order Book” by Kevin Leman would suggest, each sibling brings their own set of traits to the table depending on where they stand in the lineup.
Blake, as the oldest, is “the boss,” according to Anne Clark, the trio’s mother.
“Blake has the answers to everything and they kind of defer to Blake, just about their life and what they’re doing,” Anne said. “Blake is always going to give his opinion.”
Described as an “old soul” by his father, he believes Blake’s demeanor and respectfulness leaves him highly regarded, especially by the ISU football team.
“He just does a really good job of keeping things in perspective, I think he’s well thought of on the football team because of that,” Brent said. “He gets along well with every single socioeconomic student-athlete you have on the football team. As you know it ranges greatly in people’s backgrounds.”
As eldest children oftentimes do, Blake serves as a role model for his two younger siblings, whether it be through his faithfulness, academic efforts or constantly working to better himself within his sport.
“His perspective, I think his patience, receptivity to others ideas and his ability to listen are all real positive traits that I think both Caitlin and our youngest son, Colin, probably certainly notice and probably try to model as best they can,” Brent said.
Caitlin, the middle child, was always at her brother's side, tagging along to play with fellow neighborhood kids or cousins at family gatherings, influencing her competitive spirit. It was always known Caitlin was going to play a sport at a higher level, receiving offers early in high school.
However, throughout her serious, competitive demeanor, there is another side that bursts through — a more humorous and lighthearted person.
“She just has that fun, spunky attitude,” Anne said. “She lets them say it’s OK to laugh. You really see that at home.”
Meanwhile on the court, there’s an element of poise and tenacity that shines through.
“I think she’s just very outgoing and confident as a person,” Blake said. “I think that’s apparent on the court, she plays with a lot of confidence. There’s not a shot she doesn’t think she can take or make. And she just kind of plays with a swagger, she doesn’t care if she’s missing shots, she trusts that the next one’s going to go in.”
Described as a quiet assassin by their mother, youngest sibling Colin has a fiery side that comes out once you get to know him. Afraid he has grown up in the shadow of his two older siblings, that fact is not reflected with the amount of support he receives from them, whether it be in-person or from afar.
“I think Blake and Caitlin are always watching him online and following him, too,” Anne said. “That is probably even more special to watch, and take the time to come back and watch him and support him, and beat up on him a little bit, too. That part has been amazing.”
Competitiveness shows itself within card games, board games and games in the backyard. But there is a level of maturity and respect the siblings have toward one another that differs from childhood play.
“Now I think all that fighting and everything turns into a mature, loving relationship as you grow up and get older,” Blake said. “I always have her back and she has mine. We do anything we can to support each other and encourage each other now.”
Neither Here Nor There
While Caitlin plays at UI and Blake at ISU, growing up, they did not have a tie to either school, leaving them as one of the few Iowa families not belonging to a CyHawk fan base.
“We were one of the rare Iowa people who didn’t have an allegiance in that rivalry where we’re for one side or the other,” Blake said. “...Obviously that game (CyHawk) is a big deal for both of us. I want to win that one in football and she wants to win that one in women’s basketball just as bad as I do.
“But I mean, the jersey doesn’t matter, that’s just you as a competitor. It doesn’t matter who’s on the other side, you could be playing Florida, or Texas State, or Montana. It doesn’t matter who it is, you’re going to want to beat them the same way. There might be more electricity around the court or around the field, but it’s the same game and you have the same goals and objectives that you’re still trying to play your best and beat that team.”
Each of the Clark family members were quick to mention Caitlin was the obvious pick for becoming an athlete at a higher level. However, because of his work ethic and ability to “outwork” others, Blake, too, was given an opportunity to play DI athletics.
“He was super athletic, but he wasn’t the most skilled, the most talented,” Caitlin said. “He just really outworked people and I think that’s kind of what I admire about him and what drove me when I was young.”
Although they live in the same state, busy schedules paired with homework and extracurriculars that come with being a student-athlete keep the trio from seeing each other often. However, with the power of technology, they are able to keep in touch and support one another.
While Blake plays DI football now, he did play basketball throughout his childhood and into high school, and isn’t afraid to give Caitlin his thoughts and opinions on a recent game or play.
“He knows the game really, really well,” Caitlin said. “I think that’s always something I can lean on him whenever I have a tough game or things aren’t going my way. He usually always watches if it’s on TV, or we have Big Ten+ and he pays to watch it, but I think he’s really honest, but I know it’s in the best interest of myself.”
A quick phone call, FaceTime or text away, the siblings are at each other's fingertips, on the ready with support when needed.
“I basically talk to him everyday, even if it’s not about football or basketball, we stay in touch a lot,” Caitlin said. “Just seeing what’s going on in each other’s lives. He’s always someone I can lean on, even if it’s about school or just something in life, he’s always there for me.”