Thursday, May 4, 2017

Coach Dawn Staley Defines Thriving to Reach Peaks of Mountains that Were Once Impossible to Climb

Photo cred: Richard W. Rodriguez/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images
As a young athlete, a swimmer who played basketball, I grow up didn't seeing many women in professional sports, especially women of color. For a while, there was no such thing as WNBA and black women in swimming, at least on the Olympics scale, was unheard of. When doors finally opened up for women to play basketball in the states beyond college, along with participation in professional sports across the board, the opportunities for female ballers were still limited, so to grow up watching lady pioneers, such as Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, and Dawn Staley, pave the way for other female athletes was witnessing history unfold. Although I wouldn't necessarily consider myself to be a "baller", I've always pulled most of my inspiration from women who were/are.

Photo by: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
One of the women in sports I grew up admiring is Coach Dawn Staley. Responsible for building the University of South Carolina women's basketball program up to championship status over the 9 years she's been with the team, Staley possesses outstanding leadership qualities that has most definitely reformatted the entire blueprint of women's collegiate basketball in this country. Coming from the projects of North Philadelphia to being as wildly successful as she today, she defines what it means to overcome adversity by reaching peaks of mountains that were once impossible to climb. Her passion, hard work, and unwavering dedication are all tactics she uses in her tough love coaching, morals she's stood firmly behind to attain success, and are all principles we can learn from, no matter what career field we go into.

"...I learned that you have to have a believe in self far greater than anyone else's disbelief. You have to remove all doubt that you aren't worthy or qualified, but to do this you have to work hard. There are no shortcuts in life. 9 times out of 10, when you put the work in, it will work out, but that one time that it doesn't, you can't stand on principle and pride; you have to shake off the disappointment and make the adjustment..."  

-Dawn Staley, USC Spring 2015 commencement

Photo credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images. source

Years prior to her coaching career at USC, Dawn Staley has created a standard for not just women in sports, but also for the game of basketball in general. Her epic list of accolades and performance résumé as both an athlete and a coach (such as inductee in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, 3-time Olympic Gold medalist, and now, NCAA Women's basketball champion, to name a few) is nothing less than extraordinary and solid proof that she's a play-maker, a winner, and a competitor on every level. Through her accomplishments, she is someone who has worked extremely hard to earn certain bragging rights of being one of the best to ever do it with such a long road ahead of her to achieve even more.

There have been several times over the past few weeks since the NCAA tournament that I've wanted to write more in depth about Coach Staley, besides the brief mention on Tidal Wave Wednesdays no.1, but didn't. Even as someone I am personally inspired by and whose career I've followed very closely over the years, I just couldn't find the words, but what better time than her birthday to honor all that she's done and continues to do and for being a beacon of hope in the lives of many. I can't say that my words have done her justice here, but I'm inclined to wish her the best of birthdays and many more to come. 

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