Coming off the heels of her 2020 Olympic gold medal as the coach of the United States women’s basketball team, Dawn Staley has yet another trophy to add to her collection. She has led her South Carolina Gamecocks to their second national championship title this past Sunday. With this win, she became the first Black coach to win multiple championships in both men’s and women’s DI history.
Dawn’s legacy in basketball comes years before her coaching career. Before starting her career as a collegiate basketball player, she was named the national high school player of the year in 1988. She broke numerous records during her time at the University of Virginia, leading to the beginning of her professional career across Europe before eventually joining the WNBA. She was drafted 9th overall by Charlotte Sting in 1999 and had an incredibly successful 8-year career.
During her time as a professional player, she won three Olympic gold medals for Team USA, along with two gold and one bronze World Cup medals. As both a player and a coach, she’s always found a way to win. Her extensive list of career accolades shows that she deserves more than a seat at the table, she deserves the whole damn thing.
It’s no secret that women’s basketball, at both the collegiate and professional levels, is seriously underappreciated. This year was the first year where “March Madness” was attributed to both tournaments, instead of just the men’s tournament. This is one of many incredibly necessary steps needed to advance the status and success of women’s basketball.
Women like Dawn Staley serve as an inspiration. She’s an inspiration for women and girls everywhere, in sports or not. She serves as a figurehead that it is possible for women to not only exist in male-dominated fields, but it’s possible to succeed beyond precedent. The standard set for women in sports is to exceed the accomplishments of their male predecessors. There is the notion that if you can’t beat what the men before you have done, then you shouldn’t be taken seriously.
Despite succeeding in more ways than most of her male predecessors has, she has absolutely obliterated that notion. She has played a huge role in moving women’s sports, specifically women’s basketball into the forefront of the conversation. She has shown the importance of uplifting female athletes, and how essential the advancement of women’s sports is to women’s sports everywhere. Her seemingly endless list of successes along with what she has done for the game of basketball proves how much of an important figure she is in sports. If you didn’t know her, you do now, and you better not forget her because she’s not going anywhere.