Dawn Staley: Congratulations!!

I watched the University of South Carolina win the Women's NCAA Championship in basketball yesterday.  It was a decent game in terms of back and forth action.  A'ja Wilson pressed the action most of the game.  I love left handed players that perform on the world stage.  I can remember Jack Givens from Kentucky putting on a show almost forty years ago.  I also remember Wayman Tisdale from Oklahoma putting on a show in the finals.  He has since transitioned on to heaven after an impressive pro career and making an impact as a Musician.  Woman lefties have been few and far between. 

I had been watching Dawn Staley both play and coach for numerous years.  She was an All-American at Murrell Dobbins Technical High School and was named Player of the Year.  She attended the University of Virginia and led her team to four NCAA tournaments and three final fours.  She was the National Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992.  She stands all of 5'5".  She was a dynamo and made our city proud.  She suffered heartbreaking losses in her playing career.  Her number has been retired by the University of Virginia.  I remember twin sisters Heather and Heidi Burge.  They were 6'5" and helped to propel Dawn and the Cavaliers to great heights.

Dawn won three gold medals in the Olympics.  The women have established a level of dominance in the world game that will be stunning when it is reflected on.  She coached at Temple for a few years.  She could never attract the caliber of player that would help her to beat the likes of Tennessee and U Conn.  It was considered a major upset when Mississippi State beat the Lady Huskies on a last second shot by Morgan William.  Morgan looks like she is 5'4'.  She has a 41 point game in the tournament but was benched with the game on the line yesterday.  It took Dawn almost 9 years to build the team that bought her the ring finally.  It reached another level when she signed A'ja Wilson, a Columbia native, as a recruit three years ago.

Dawn was highly reserved on the sidelines in the championship game.  Her assistants held the clipboards and she orchestrated the win in a calm and collected manner.  It was the first complete game that I watched during these playoffs.  I used to live for the NCAA tournament.  Chamique Holdsclaw was one of my favorite players in the game.  Tennessee, under Coach Pat Summitt, was an All American factory in the 80's and 90's.  Tameka Catchings was one of her prize recruits.  She developed Alzheimer's disease and turned the team over to her son for about a year.  He had an inappropriate relationship with a player and his tenure was extremely brief.

The Lady Huskies had a 111 game streak stopped by MS.  Breanna Stewart did not allow the Huskies to lose while she was playing.  She was an ultimate talent and was preceded by Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi and Swin Cash.  I am kind of glad that they lost.  More people will watch now knowing that the field is a little more level.  Brittany Greiner was one of the last transcendent players of the game.
Many of the women have to supplement their income overseas.  She might be in China playing now.  Dawn Staley has finally achieved the success that she sought as a player.  I hope she goes on a run like Gino Auriemma.  Success begets success in the college game.  Her team led the NCAA in attendance this season.  I am quite sure that the anticipation to defend their title will have these female athletes working out next week.  Congratulations Dawn Staley,  We are all proud of you and your story of persistence and determination.

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