It’s giving Black girl magic!
Dawn Staley is a legendary coach whose 15-year run as head coach with the University of South Carolina’s Women’s Basketball Team has been nothing short of monumental. During her time, Staley became the second Black woman to win an NCAA women’s basketball title, one of just two Black women coaches to be the first to lead their teams to the NCAA Women’s Final Four tournament, made history as the first Black coach in D1 history to win multiple championships and the highest-paid Black head coach in women’s basketball, period.
Recently, Staley faced off against another trailblazing Black head coach, Niele Ivey, for the NCAA season opener in Paris, France. Ivey made history in 2020 as the first Black woman head coach for Notre Dame. The school is Ivey’s alma mater, where she was an All-American guard for the Fighting Irish before going pro as the 19th pick in the 2001 WNBA draft. She eventually hung up her shorts for a chance to coach, becoming the first woman assistant coach for the Memphis Grizzlies and serving 12 seasons as an assistant coach at Notre Dame. Her success has also paved the way for generations of athletes, Ivey recently watching her own son Jaden go pro as the No. 5 overall draft pick for the Detroit Pistons.
As if their accomplishments alone weren’t enough, the two women had an added level of Black girl magic for their international NCAA opener, a group of pioneering Black women in media traveling across the globe to show their support for Staley and Ivey!
Sports analyst and journalist Jemele Hill took to social media to post a photo of the group, who lovingly call themselves “The Matchetes,” huddled together in Paris before the game. Alongside Hill were political & cultural commentator Angela Rye, former MSNBC reporter Tiffany D. Cross, CNN journalist Cari Champion, MSNBC national correspondent Joy-Ann Reid, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, civil rights journalist Errin Haines, activist and MSNBC analyst Brittany Packnett Cunningham, and Black Voters Matter Fund cofounder and Southern Girls and Women’s Consortium founder LaTosha Brown.
“[The Matchetes] rolled into Paris for [South Carolina Gamecocks] vs [Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish Women’s Basketball game] to support two excellent coaches in [Dawn Staley] and [Niele Ivey]. We don’t play about supporting Black women, and this was the perfect event for us to galvanize,” wrote Hill.
The big opener saw South Carolina come out with the victory, 100-71 over Notre Dame, ESPN reports. It was a big moment for women’s basketball, and one The Matchetes say they were thrilled to support.
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“Such incredible fan support and it was wonderful to see these players get the prime time stage they deserved. We had so many laughs, and good times. I’m gonna tell kids we were the Avengers,” Hill continued.
“Lemme tell you DAWN STALEY is a legend!,” added Rye.
Seeing the outpouring of love for women’s basketball from other Black women and the world was just what the doctor ordered. More group trips like this, please!
Cover photo: Black Women in Media Travel to Paris to Support NCAA Coaches Dawn Staley & Niele Ivey/Photo by @JemeleHill/Instagram