USA TODAY 2023 Women of the Year South Carolina Honoree: Dawn Staley

Quannah Chasinghorse. Roberta “Bobbi” Cordano. Goldie Hawn. Maura Healey. Nicole Mann. Monica Munoz Martinez. Michelle Obama. Sandra Day O’Connor. Sheryl Lee Ralph. Grace Young. USA Women’s Soccer Team. Women of the 118th. Congress. Who are these women, and what do they share?

These women have been named as national honorees in USA TODAY’s Women of the Year project that honors local and national heroines “who make a positive impact in their communities every day…across America USA TODAY readers submitted their nominations for national and state Women of the Year honorees.” (USA TODAY March 16, 2023 – updated March 20, 2023)

In addition to the national honorees for the Women of the Year project, each state has an honoree who “lifts up people in their communities…showing up and speaking out for those who may not have a voice…” (USA TODAY March 17, 2023 – updated March 20, 2023)

Not surprisingly Dawn Staley has been named the South Carolina honoree by USA TODAY.

The South Carolina women’s basketball coach is a titan in sports. A three-time Olympic gold medalist as a player and one-time gold medalist as head coach of Team USA, Staley’s led the Gamecocks to two NCAA women’s basketball championships in the last six years. They’re the heavy favorite to win their third title, seeded No. 1 overall in the NCAA Tournament and boasting an undefeated regular season.

Her reach extends far beyond the court though. She is not just the face of women’s basketball but the conscience [sic]of it, a passionate advocate for racial justice and equal pay, and a public figure who used her platform to draw daily attention to Brittney Griner’s wrongful detainment until the WNBA superstar was home. And she encourages women everywhere, athletes and otherwise, to use their voice – and speak loudly. 

All of this is possible, Staley says, because of her mom and the lessons she instilled. Estelle Staley was a South Carolina native who moved home when her daughter, the youngest of five children, took over the Gamecocks program in 2008. 

Staley’s rise from the projects of Philadelphia, where she honed her game, comes with great responsibility though. The 52-year-old calls herself “a dream merchant,” determined to show everyone, especially children who look like her, that starting from the bottom doesn’t mean you’ll finish there.

For her achievements, Staley is the USA TODAY Women of the Year honoree from South Carolina. 

—–Lindsay Schnell, USA TODAY (March 17, 2023 – updated March 20, 2023)

—-Greenville News

Yesterday afternoon in our little microcosm of Gamecock women’s basketball fans in the stands – shout out to Section 118 – a buzz went up and around about Coach Staley’s attire for this second game of the post season, the final game at home for the Gamecock women at Colonial Life Arena in the 2022-23 season. The biggest question away from the action, the excitement we feel every time we watch our girls play, whether or not we will make the Sweet 16 in Greenville next weekend – yes, those are important questions. But the first one we asked was what is Coach Staley wearing today?

And the answer was a white and blue Cheyney University jersey – Cheyney is the nation’s first and only HBCU to make it to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament in women’s basketball. Coached by basketball Hall of Fame Coach Vivian Stringer in 1982, the team lost to Louisiana Tech in the championship game.

Coach Staley responded to questions regarding her choice of attire for the win that sent her team to the Sweet Sixteen next weekend in Greenville: “For them to be led by Coach Stringer, who opened doors that now I walk through, it was truly an honor to wear this jersey and to represent them.”

“Yolanda Laney, who wore this (jersey) … She actually started leagues for us,” Staley said. “When I was younger, we played in something called the DBL, and she was very much a part of creating that league to give younger players an opportunity to just come together and play in the summertime, so I have fond memories of that.” —-Emily Adams, Greenville News (March 19, 2023)

Dawn said it. I believe it. That’s all, folks.


Congratulations to Coach Staley on this honor – we are proud of you, and what you stand for.

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, racism, Random, Reflections, sexism, Slice of Life, sports, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to USA TODAY 2023 Women of the Year South Carolina Honoree: Dawn Staley

  1. Wayside Artist says:

    When I read your essays about women like Dawn Staley, I believe good change will come – slowly, but onward it rolls.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. cindy knoke says:

    Isn’t she lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

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