COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 18: Head coach Dawn Staley of the South Carolina Gamecocks looks on during their game against the Georgia Lady Bulldogs at Colonial Life Arena on February 18, 2024 in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Dawn Staley Makes It Clear Why She Coaches

If there's a reason for becoming a coach other than to be the very best, Dawn Staley hasn't found it yet. 

Staley was featured on the most recent episode of "Sue's Places" — an ESPN docuseries that follows legendary basketball player Sue Bird as she explores the history of college basketball through conversations with former players, coaches and key figures. The iconic duo discussed Staley's career playing at the University of Virginia from 1988-1992, where she won two consecutive Naismith College Player of the Year awards. 

Yet, despite the individual success Staley achieved in college, a national championship eluded her — which is why she became a coach.

"I didn't win a national championship in college," Staley said during the episode. "We went to the Final Four three times, got to the final game once, but we didn't make it count. So I got into coaching to win a national championship."

Turns out that coaching suited Staley. That was proved by her South Carolina team winning two national championships (in 2017 and in 2022, respectively), along with the dozens of elite WNBA athletes who had been molded into world-class basketball players by Staley. 

Yet, Staley's coaching career didn't start with such resounding success.

"This is my 24th year coaching, the first eight were at Temple," Staley told Bird. "We went to the tournament a few times, we would get to the first or the second round, and then that was it. And then I'm like, 'I gotta get to a place in which we can win a national championship.' And then South Carolina came up."

Staley left Temple for South Carolina in 2008 and has since created a program that — according to everyone but her — has become a dynasty. 

Staley's current South Carolina squad is 28-0 on the season. It's the only undefeated team left in the nation — among both men's and women's teams — and appears destined to provide Staley her third national championship as a coach. 

Considering that South Carolina lost all five of its starters from last year, the team's success this year is a testament to Staley's greatness as a coach. 

While Staley has already more than made up for not winning a championship as a player, we expect to see even more championships coming her way in the near future. 

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