She’s coming in hot!
University of South Carolina’s head coach is adding another title to her list of accolades: 2023 John R. Wooden Award “Legends of Coaching” recipient.
Since her arrival at University of South Carolina 14 years ago, Dawn Staley hasn’t fallen short of greatness. Within her first year, she became the second Black woman to win a NCAA women’s basketball title. She’s the highest-paid Black head coach for women’s basketball and scored as one of two Black women coaches that lead their teams to the NCAA Women’s Final Four tournament for the first time ever. This year, she made history again as the first Black coach in men’s or women’s Division I history to win multiple championships.
The Philadelphia native’s coaching journey started at Temple University, where she led the team to six NCAA tournament appearances, earning Temple’s annual Love for the City Award. Staley holds more titles than any other Black coach, leading the South Carolina Gamecocks to two National Championships, four Final Four appearances, six SEC regular season championships, and six SEC tournament championships. She’s coached two John R. Wooden Award winners and Players of the Year: A’ja Wilson and Aliyah Boston. Now, the head coach is receiving her own John R. Wooden Award, the 2023 “Legends of Coaching” honor.
This award is based upon character, graduation rate of student-athletes, coaching philosophy, and success on the court. Staley will be honored along with other award recipients on April 7, 2023.
She started her career as a point-guard for the University of Virginia Cavaliers where she became a two-time National Player of the Year. On that same team, she faced off in three Final Fours and was named MVP. She’s secured three Olympic gold medals and was deemed WNBA’s top 15 Players of All-Time. In 2013, she was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. The WNBA recognized her hard work as a player by naming an award after her; the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award is given to players who exemplify leadership characteristics in the community that she lives or works in. The coach also demonstrates exemplary success off the court with the co-founding of INNERSOLE, a nonprofit aiming to “provide new sneakers to children in need.” The organization has provided over 30,000 children with new sneakers.
All of coach Staley’s excellence is reflected in the league with this year being the highest number of Black coaches for the first time since 1998. According to NCAA, the probability of competing in division I basketball is 4.1%, the odds of competing professionally after college is 0.8%. Staley, along with other Black woman players, have continued to defy odds and make room for upcoming greatness.
Congratulations, Coach Staley. Keep crushing it!