She has outperformed Caitlin Clark, but it’s okay with her that you’ve never heard of her

Caitlin Clark embarks on her final post-season at the University of Iowa, having recently achieved the remarkable feat of scoring 3,685 career points and surpassing the all-time leading scorer record in NCAA Division 1. Meanwhile, in St. Louis, an aspiring pharmacist ponders whether Clark will surpass her own historical basketball statistics.

Meet Grace Beyer, a rising star in women’s college basketball who has been quietly shattering records and leaving her mark on the sport. Unlike the more well-known players who bask in fame, endorsements, and media attention, Grace has chosen a different path. She has chosen to let her skills on the court do the talking, rather than seeking out the spotlight.

Beyer concluded her remarkable career at the University of Health Sciences & Pharmacy in St. Louis, Missouri, on March 2nd following her team’s defeat in the semifinals of the women’s American Midwest Conference Tournament. In her final game, Beyer displayed her prowess by scoring 33 points, bringing her overall collegiate career points tally to an impressive 3,961 in NAIA.

Beyer currently holds the title of the most prolific shooter in college basketball, surpassing Clark by a staggering 276 points. In fact, she is not only the all-time leader in the NAIA but also holds the fifth spot in college basketball history, regardless of division.

Beyer remains humble when it comes to her record, her career, and being compared to Clark.

“It’s incredible how Caitlin Clark is revolutionizing women’s basketball, and it’s truly an honor to be making my mark in a similar arena,” Beyer, 23, shares with TODAY.com.

Clark may have been dominant in Division 1, but records speak for themselves, and Clark has yet to surpass Beyer’s. Fans have flocked to sold-out arenas to catch a glimpse of Clark in action. On the other hand, Beyer’s performances in smaller gyms attract around 100 spectators, which aligns perfectly with what the Wisconsin native had envisioned. Not only did she commit to her athletic pursuits, but she also took on a challenging academic load, including numerous medical labs.

In her fifth year at UHSP, Beyer is only one year away from completing her Doctorate of Pharmacy. This is precisely why she decided to attend a school where the mascot proudly dons a white lab coat and the athletic teams are known as the Eutectics. Interestingly, the term Eutectics refers to the phenomenon of two solids combining to form a liquid. Beyer humorously admits that she had to look up the meaning when she first joined the school.

A passion for basketball … and pharmacy

From a young age, Beyer developed a deep love for both basketball and pharmacy, which stemmed from her close-knit family.

As a young girl in the small town of Eagle, Wisconsin, Beyer grew up alongside her two older brothers, Brian and Daniel. She was the little sister who always joined in on basketball practices and spent hours shooting hoops in the driveway.

“I always had a strong desire to improve and become the top player on my team,” Beyer reflects on her early years in youth basketball. “From the time I was in third grade, my dad and I would make it a daily routine to hit the gym together. We would go before school, after school, and sometimes even multiple times a day, dedicating several hours to our training.”

Robert and Julie Beyer, the parents of the girl, quickly recognized their daughter’s undeniable talent.

According to Robert Beyer, his daughter was always known for her strong work ethic and dedication. Once she decided to pursue basketball, she put in the effort to constantly improve and work towards her goals.

As a freshman at Mukwonago High School, Beyer secured a spot on the varsity squad, which eventually reached the state championship game. She attributes her growth as a player to her teammates, many of whom went on to play Division 1 ball. By competing against older and stronger players, she was able to elevate her game.

Choosing academics over basketball in college

Julie Beyer fondly recalls her close relationship with her maternal grandfather, Bernard Wenninger, during her youth. Their bond was so strong that the family playfully attributed Grace’s competitive nature to the influence of her beloved Grandpa.

“They played card games and board games together since she was just 2 years old. Her father would always let her win, and it became a little joke among them. We used to tease my dad, saying, ‘You’re the reason she hates losing!'” Julie Beyer fondly recalls.

In her early years of high school, Beyer took on the responsibility of assisting her grandfather with his medications as his health began to deteriorate.

“My Grandpa faced challenges in managing his medications as he grew older, and I noticed his struggle to stay adherent to his prescribed regimen,” Beyer shared. “In order to support him, I took the responsibility of organizing his medications and providing him with additional healthcare assistance. This experience sparked my interest in the field of pharmacy.”

When Beyer was ready to explore her college basketball options, she received significant attention from coaches at both Division 1 and Division 2 schools. However, whenever she mentioned her academic aspirations, there seemed to be some concern. Pursuing a pharmacy degree requires an undergraduate degree in biology or chemistry, along with additional years of study to earn a doctorate.

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She explains, “In my experience, the bigger colleges were not very supportive of pursuing a career in the healthcare field. While not all colleges had this attitude, there was a general discouragement towards healthcare. They believed that the demanding hours in labs and academic courses would hinder one’s ability to fully commit to basketball.”

Beyer’s parents came to the realization that their daughter, who showed exceptional academic abilities and would later become the salutatorian of her high school class, needed to shift her focus.

Robert Beyer reflects on the challenges he faced when pursuing a career in basketball. He recalls how many schools were reluctant to support or discuss such a non-traditional path. Determined to find a way, Beyer conducted extensive research and discovered that a career in the medical field could provide a solid foundation. He realized that if basketball could be a part of that journey, it would be an added bonus.

“I had numerous discussions with my parents,” Beyer shared with the Associated Press, “and they encouraged me to think beyond just four years of college and focus on preparing for the next four decades of my life. It was a profound idea to grasp at such a young age, but I was determined to pursue a career that would bring me happiness and fulfillment. As for basketball, well, that’s something I’ll always find joy in whenever I step onto the court.”

A fan of Caitlin Clark

Beyer, renowned for her calm and composed attitude on the court, handles the discussion on whether Clark will surpass her points record with diplomacy. She suggests that the outcome will hinge on how far Clark’s Iowa team progresses in the NCAA tournament.

Although she doesn’t claim to be a devoted fan, she does admit that watching Clark play is an enjoyable experience. She appreciates Clark’s style of play and finds it fascinating. Ultimately, she believes that there is one particular aspect of Clark’s game that sets her apart from others.

Beyer admires the impressive skills of his teammate, particularly her ability to rack up assists and score points. He highlights their shared talent in scoring, but is particularly in awe of her ability to sink long-range shots from near halfcourt. Beyer marvels at her consistent success with these challenging shots, expressing his amazement by saying, “I don’t know how she does it!”

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Beyer, like everyone else, has witnessed Clark’s remarkable rise to fame and fortune in women’s college basketball. This was even before her recent announcement on February 29th that she plans to enter the WNBA draft after this season. In fact, Clark has already secured NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) deals with major companies like Gatorade, State Farm, and Nike. These deals are estimated to be worth a staggering $3.1 million, as reported by On3, a reputable website covering college recruiting.

When questioned about any doubts she may have regarding her choice to deviate from the Division 1 basketball path, Beyer, who has not secured any NIL deals and has only received partial scholarships, responds with deep contemplation.

“There will always be those thoughts lingering in the back of my mind, but I can’t dwell on the ‘what ifs’. I’ve achieved something truly incredible at UHSP, and I have no regrets about choosing to come here,” she expresses confidently.

After completing her doctorate degree, Beyer, a member of the 2022-2023 Academic All-America Team alongside Clark, plans to assess her future prospects. It is likely that basketball will continue to play a role in her plans moving forward.

“Once next year rolls around, I’ll have the opportunity to expand the influence of basketball and explore the option of playing overseas,” she explains. “However, I’m also deeply passionate about pharmacy and could see myself dedicating my entire career to it.”

Playing for Grandpa, one last time

During her sophomore year in college, Beyer’s grandfather sadly passed away. However, he did have the opportunity to witness her play as No. 5 for the Eutectics on one occasion. Julie Beyer fondly remembers the time when they made the nearly 6-hour drive from their home to St. Louis just to watch Grace in action.

Julie Beyer recalls the time when her father’s health was deteriorating rapidly. Despite his declining condition, they managed to bring him to one of Grace’s games. Julie remembers pushing him in a wheelchair as he struggled to breathe. However, his excitement at being able to watch her play was evident.

Beyer recalls that day with great clarity: the man who would later inspire her to pursue a career in pharmaceuticals came to watch her play for the basketball team, where she went on to set records that even Caitlin Clark might not surpass. “It was incredibly meaningful.”

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