Inarguably, Dawn Staley's winning and competitive spirit is changing the trajectory of the University of Carolina Women's Basketball program.

The former WNBA player, Hall of Famer, and four-time Olympic gold medalist was named head coach in 2008 and built the team from the ground up. Fast forward fifteen years later, the team that Staley built now stands firm with countless successes, including two NCAA Championships, multiple SEC regular-season championships and tournament titles, and three top-two recruiting classes.

The North Philadelphia native recently spoke with Cola Daily and shared more insight regarding the secret recipe behind her successful journey.

"I think what I've done in my life is create good habits. I only try to add things to my life that can help me, and that's probably the secret," she said. I don't really add anything that doesn't add value to who I am and what I am trying to accomplish. I have surrounded myself around great people who are cut from the same cloth of competing and doing things the right way, and once you have that, it's all about sharpening your skill set and being open to anything that will help us accomplish our goal. I adopted that early on in life, and I think that probably has to do with me being my mother's child and always wanting to make her proud."

After ending with a perfect regular season, Staley and the undefeated team enter the 2023 NCAA tournament with the number 1 seed and an opportunity to etch their mark in the program's history if they can clinch a third NCAA championship.

"I believe it would etch our name in the history books," said Staley. "If we are actually able to do it again, we would do it in a fashion of being undefeated. But do for the special group of individuals who decided that the University of South Carolina would be where they hone their careers. I'm specifically talking about our 2019 number-one recruiting class that decided to join hands to bring about a period of our history, making so many people proud. I am glad that they will be able to host another championship trophy in their name." 

Creating good habits is more than just a positive affirmation for Staley; it is a core principle that sets her apart.

"We are creatures of habit, and we know when we form habits that are beneficial to us and detrimental to us, and you have a choice every day to choose the right one because they all a part of our journey, she said.

Staley's journey at USC has left an imprint across the Midlands. Her inspirational success story has warmed hearts and gained her respect and adoration from so many. Outside of basketball, she has used her platform and voice to speak up for the voiceless. Her career and social contributions have become recognized as a catalyst for change. It was announced in February that the Statues for Equality and the City of Columbia would erect a statue in her likeness downtown Columbia.

The statue would be placed directly across the street from where the confederate flag was once located, and Staley said she is honored and that the statue will represent hope. 

"For me, it's probably more strategic for others than it is for me, and I believe symbolizes what can be," she said. "I'm not one that thinks I'm deserving of a statue. Somebody else thought of that, and I do think they want for it to symbolize change and doing things in a way that is you know, right for the time. I am honored, I'm honored for what it stands for, I'm honored because not very many women and black women get statues around this country, and for me to be one in this campaign means a great deal. It represents hope; it represents what you can be when given the opportunity."

On the court or off the court, it is clear that Dawn Michelle Staley is determined and has an infectious winning spirit that will leave a legacy of 'what can be' here in the Midlands.

Visit to learn more about the University of South Carolina Women's Basketball team.

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