Dawn Staley: Giving credit to a legend


FILE – In this Sunday Sept. 30, 2018, file photo, United States coach Dawn Staley gives instructions to her players during the Women’s basketball World Cup final match against Australia Tenerife, Spain. Staley began fall practice Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, hoping her experience leading the world’s best players to a FIBA World Cup crown can help mold the young Gamecocks into a championship group. (AP Photo/Andres Gutierrez, FIle)

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote my column about the always inspiring Pat Summitt. After finishing that column, I realized that so many of the coaches that I admire are women.

One of the coaches that I admire just as much as Pat Summitt is Dawn Staley. Staley is a three-time Olympic gold medalist who was initially hesitant to get into coaching.

Her first coaching job was at Temple, where she coached the women’s basketball team. In six seasons, Staley led the Owls to six NCAA tournaments, three regular season conference championships and four conference tournament titles.

In May of 2008, Staley was named the head coach for the University of South Carolina. Since then, the Gamecocks have won four SEC tournament championships, been to two Final Fours and won one National Championship in 2017.

I remember that around 2014 there was a lot of buzz surrounding the Gamecocks’ program. Staley was recruiting really high-caliber players and had a amassed a fantastic fan base. Her fans were hungry, though, and they could feel that a national championship was within their reach.

Over the next couple of years, Staley’s program reached new heights. She had created a strong team around core players, most notably South Carolina native A’ja Wilson. When Wilson graduated in 2018, she was the first overall WNBA draft pick.

In March of 2017, Staley was named head coach of the women’s USA basketball team. In her first big test coaching the team, Staley shined, with USA winning gold at the FIBA World Cup in Spain.

As a player, Staley was a stellar point guard. She attended the University of Virginia, where she led her team to three Final Fours and one championship game.

During the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Staley was chosen to be the flag bearer for the United States.

What makes Staley so exceptional is her transition from amazing player to amazing coach. It definitely helps that she was a point guard, but Staley really does understand the game better than anyone. She is fierce and determined, yet quiet on the sidelines.

One of my favorite Dawn Staley characteristics is when she silently watches a game unfold while rolling a stat sheet in her hand. Then she’ll call a time-out, deliver the most on-point speech ever to her team and watch them make the adjustments. She may not be over the top and dramatic, but it works. Players respect her. Other coaches respect her.

She is a legend.

Mariana Dominguez is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at mariana.dominguez@uconn.edu.

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