Andrea Chilcote tends Caitlin Clark's knee

GVSU graduate finds success with Iowa Women's Basketball

Players swarmed the court in celebration as the final buzzer sounded in the Iowa Hawkeyes 94-87 victory over the LSU Tigers in the Elite Eight matchup of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. Among the celebrating Hawkeyes at MVP Arena in Albany, New York was Andrea Chilcote, ‘12, Iowa’s athletic trainer.

For Chilcote and the Iowa team, the win meant more than just punching a ticket to the Final Four, where they would defeat the UConn Huskies before falling to the South Carolina Gamecocks in the championship game. It was revenge over a heartbreaking loss to LSU in the NCAA championship game in 2023. For Iowa's star guard Caitlin Clark, currently with the WNBA's Indiana Fever, it was a chance to cement her legacy as one of the greatest college basketball players of all time.

“It’s so much fun. It’s so much fun winning,” Chilcote said about the team’s performance against the Tigers. “Just working with the student athletes, they’re so competitive; I’m really competitive too.”

One such student-athlete is Clark. Clark, enjoyed a prolific collegiate career at Iowa, breaking the all-time NCAA scoring record for either men’s or women’s basketball. Chilcote joined the training staff during Clark’s junior year where the two started to build a good relationship with one another.

“Caitlin is one of the funniest people you’ll ever meet,” Chilcote said, describing her relationship with Clark. “We’ve worked through some things together with her health. It’s nice to have that trust with her.”

Chilcote’s journey to Iowa started in Muskegon. She always had a passion for sports, playing basketball, volleyball and softball at Reeths-Puffer High School. An interest in science inspired Chilcote to pursue an education in physical therapy after high school, but once at Grand Valley she found athletic training to be the right fit.

With its proximity to home and scholarships, GVSU was the only school she seriously considered. What was an easy decision at the time proved to be fruitful for Chilcote.

“Grand Valley easily has the best athletic training program in the state,” she said. “Getting out into the athletic training world now, I realized how well prepared I was to begin my career.”

Chilcote had the opportunity to work observation hours, getting experience at places such as Jenison High School. That experience justified her decision to pursue athletic training as her passion for the field grew through it.

During her senior year in 2012, Chilcote had the opportunity to work as an intern for the Chicago Cubs. The immersive internship sent her to Phoenix to work during spring training and rookie ball. The experience introduced her to professional sports and working with athletes at a high level.

After graduating from GVSU, Chilcote earned a master of sports administration degree from Eastern Illinois University, where she spent time as a graduate assistant athletic trainer for multiple sports.

Chilcote spent time working with multiple universities after graduation, two of which included Wayne State University and Central Michigan University.

Chilcote walking with equipment.
Andrea Chilcote carries training equipment across the court.

In the fall of 2022, Chilcote joined the University of Iowa staff as an assistant athletic trainer for the women’s basketball and golf teams.

In her two seasons on the job, Chilcote saw the Hawkeyes basketball team nearly as high as a team can reach, winning two Big Ten championships and making two NCAA championship appearances

“It’s a ton of work keeping the student athletes healthy. But, honestly, it’s so much fun," Chilcote said. "Working with the student athletes is an amazing experience. I couldn’t have even dreamed that my life would be this cool.”

A critical component of Chilcote’s job is building trust between herself and the athletes she works with. For her, building that trust starts by being present for the athletes and having open and honest conversations with the athletes about treatment plans.

“If they don’t feel like the treatment works, then you offer new options for treatment,  understanding that everyone is different and needs different things that make them feel seen and heard,” she said.

Chilcote listens to the athletes. It is not just about listening to their thoughts on treatment, but listening to their passions and concerns about life off the court. She finds that being present in those moments goes a long way toward building a sense of safety and trust.

Chilcote has witnessed the growth in popularity women’s basketball has enjoyed over the past two years first hand. She recounts many instances of people telling her that Iowa is the reason they started watching women’s basketball. It is no secret that Clark played a major role in drawing eyes to the sport.

After the Indiana Fever selected Clark with the first overall pick in the WNBA Draft, her jersey was sold out in most sizes on the Fanatics website within an hour.

WNBA teams across the league have seen ticket sales reach near sellout levels when Clark and the Fever come to town. The Washington Mystics moved their June 7 game against the Fever from their 4,200-seat stadium to the 20,000 plus-capacity Capital One Arena. The Las Vegas Aces followed suit, moving their July 2 game against Indiana to accommodate around 8,000 additional fans.

“When my mom was a kid growing up in middle school and high school, she wasn’t allowed to play basketball,” Chilcote said about seeing the growth of women’s sports. “So, it has been emotional seeing that when you do invest in women’s sports, like anything, people will watch. They’re proving that it’s true.”


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