In the world of women’s college basketball, Dawn Staley and her South Carolina Gamecocks have become synonymous with resilience and triumph. The head coach has turned her experiences, including the tough lessons learned, into a recipe for success which seems to be working. The No. 1 Gamecocks have not lost so far this season.
Reflecting on her past after South Carolina beat Morgan State 104-38 on Wednesday, Staley recalled a pivotal moment in 1992 with coach Tara VanDerveer that set the tone for her approach to both playing and coaching. During the Olympic team selection, she was candidly told by Tara VanDerveer, a renowned figure in the sport, that she wouldn't be recommended to the Olympic committee as a point guard because she “turned the ball over too much.”
“Yeah, that’s hard to swallow but I got it. Message heard, message heard. If I didn’t have instances like that, I wouldn’t be a three-time Olympian,” Staley said, via SEC Network. “t’s all growing pains, it’s all stuff that makes you uncomfortable. You ain’t got to like it but you certainly have to do something about it that’s gonna help your cause.”
Staley's approach has been instrumental in the Gamecocks' transition from a preseason rank of No. 6 to a unanimous No. 1. The team's ability to overcome obstacles and learn from each game is a direct reflection of Dawn Staley's leadership.
Moreover, the coach has been outspoken about the Gamecocks' mindset as an undefeated team. She has pushed back against the notion that the team ‘needs a loss' to be motivated, stating that the team is focused on being prepared regardless of their or their opponent's records.