Staley’s Leadership Shining Through


Most know the story of how Dawn Staley received a piece of championship net from Carolyn Peck. Peck gave Staley a piece of her National Championship net from her win at Purdue. Following Staley’s 2017 National Championship win at South Carolina, she made a promise to give a piece of her net to every Black woman head coach in the country. Before the start of the 2021-2022 college basketball season, she did just that. Staley’s leadership is shining through across the NCAA.

Net Worth

There are 70 Black women head coaches in Division I and all 70 received a package that included a piece of net, a note, along with the words “Net Worth” written on it. One of the excerpts says that she couldn’t choose just one coach to pass on the tradition, so she chose all of them. She has thrown out the idea of continuing this with Division II, III, and Junior College coaches eventually. It is not surprising that Staley would fulfill this, but it is more evidence of her leadership and impact. Various coaches have posted videos or pictures of them opening their package like the one below.

Leadership & Impact

The piece of the net is not a good luck charm but motivation, according to Peck. It is the power of seeing someone that looks like them achieve something of great value and now believing they can achieve that too. In a recent survey from the Athletic, anonymous players were asked to choose a coach they would most like to play for besides their own. The majority voted for Dawn Staley. Gestures like this show why she has built up so much good-will. It was cool to see the surprise of coaches at smaller schools when receiving their portion of the net. They perhaps were not expecting it to extend to everyone. Another example of her leadership occurred recently when she reached out to Paige Bueckers following her injury; especially when juxtaposed with Geno Auriemma’s words, in which he essentially said that she was in the game late because she complains about being on the bench (while also saying he didn’t like how the team looked without Paige).


To put this in context, Dawn Staley is only the second Black woman head coach to win a national championship, with Peck being the first. Niele Ivey, the head coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, won two as an assistant under Muffet McGraw. Last season, two Black head coaches reached the Final Four when Staley’s Gamecocks faced Adia Barnes’ Arizona Wildcats. Staley has helped moved women’s basketball forward as player at Virginia, in the WNBA, with team USA, and now as a coach.

Gamecocks’ Season Outlook

In terms of her own team, the Gamecocks are ranked #1 in the nation. They have two huge wins over UConn and more recently against Maryland and Duke. They also have National Player of the Year candidate Aliyah Boston. The only concern so far is the injury to point guard Destinee Henderson and season-ending injury to Raven Johnson. Laeticia Amihere has done a good job at the point in Henderson’s place (and Henderson should be back soon). It would not be surprising if Staley was cutting down the nets for the second time come April. Regardless, Staley continues to be a pioneer in women’s basketball and is inspiring her peers. Staley’s leadership is shining through.

About Tiffany Stegall

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