March Madness

Dawn Staley Leads South Carolina to Programs First-Ever National Championship

Dawn Staley Leads South Carolina to Programs First-Ever National Championship

The South Carolina Gamecocks are the NCAA Women’s Basketball Champions after defeating the Mississippi State Bulldogs in an exciting, well-played 67-55 victory at American Airlines Center. With the win, Staley becomes the second African-American Woman to win a Division I National Championship (Carolyn Peck.)  In the process, Staley became the first Final Four Oustanding Player turned coach to win a National Championship.

“It means that I can check off one of the things that had been a void in my career,” said Staley, who went to three Final Fours in a row as a player at Virginia from 1990 to 1992 but never reached a championship game. “When I couldn’t get it done in college, I thought that was it.”

This has been quite a year for Staley who in March was named the Head Coach of the USA Women’s National team through 2020.

A standout at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, Virginia. During her four seasons in college, Staley led her team to four NCAA Tournaments, three Final Fours and one National Championship game. She was named the ACC female athlete of the year and the national player of the year in 1991 and 1992. Staley finished her college career with 2,135 points and holds the NCAA record for career steals with 454. She finished her career at Virginia as the school’s all-time scoring leader and as the ACC’s all-time leader in assists at 729.
In 1994-1995, after graduation, Staley played professional basketball in France in Tarbes, Italy, Brazil, and Spain before joining the ABL and then the WNBA.

In 1996, Staley joined the Richmond Rage of the American Basketball League (ABL) and led the team to the ABL finals in 1997. The following season, the team moved to Staley’s hometown of Philadelphia.

In the 1999 WNBA Draft, Staley was selected with the ninth overall pick by the Charlotte Sting. In 2001, she led the Sting to the Championship game.

Her tenure with USA Basketball began when she competed with the Women’s Junior National Team. Staley has won three gold medal as a member of the National Team (1996, 2000 & 2004), and she continued to play for Team USA throughout her career. Before the 2004 Games, she was selected to carry the flag of the United States during the parade of nations at the opening ceremony. And now she will take the helm as their head coach.

 

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Denise J. Saul is the Founder/President of WSEN-Women's Sports & Entertainment Network.

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