Dawn Staley Is More Than a Basketball Coach for Her Players

For the veteran women’s coach at the college and Olympic levels, honesty and discipline are central to leadership.

This article is part of our Women and Leadership special report that coincides with global events in March celebrating the accomplishments of women. This conversation has been edited and condensed.

As coach of the University of South Carolina women’s top-ranked basketball team, Dawn Staley is a dynamic leader at a time of surging global popularity in women’s sports. At 53, she is a Hall of Fame point guard who guided the United States to three Olympic gold medals as a player and one as a coach. And in her 16th year at South Carolina, Coach Staley just led the team to its second straight undefeated regular season. Now she seeks her third national collegiate title. A proud Philadelphia native, Coach Staley is an outspoken advocate for gender and racial equity in sports and beyond.

Her secret to guiding young people today? Honesty and discipline, lessons she learned from her mother.

You make statements with your coaching wardrobe, and a hoodie you recently wore declared, “Everyone watches women’s sports.” What’s different now?

I just feel like there’s more access to our game. There’s more demand. I think it’s OK to tell the stories of our game and people in our game. I hope it’s not a fad. I don’t think it is. Because the fabric of our game is strong. It’s bursting at the seams right now on all levels, not just collegiately, but the W.N.B.A., even high school. Younger girls have grown up on the W.N.B.A., and during my time in college, we didn’t have that. We’ll get a big bump when the Olympics roll around.

For the first time, there’s going to be the same number of female athletes as male athletes at the Olympics. Are you amazed it took that long?

No. I’m not. I think we have been held back, intentionally, and the numbers and the demand today prove that.

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Source: Basketball -


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