If you’re a fan of college basketball and Black excellence you might want to check out the women’s NCAA tournament, where in the Greensboro region of the bracket alone, there are five Black female head coaches. In the tournament overall, there are 12 Black female head coaches, double the number of Black women-led teams in the tournament last year, according to the Associated Press.
Dawn Staley, the head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks, is leading the number one team in the nation and says there is still much more progress to be made for Black women-led teams in women’s college basketball. But, says the amount of Black female coaches in this tournament is a good sign.
From the Associated Press:
“When you give people opportunity that they don’t often get and they’re successful, this is kind of what happens. I think it’s popular now. Like it was popular probably ... when Coach (Jolette) Law got the Illinois job,” in 2007, Staley said of her Gamecocks assistant.
“A lot of Black coaches got opportunities during that time,” Staley added. “And then probably three, four years later, 75% of them weren’t head coaches anymore, and they don’t get recycled like other coaches. So I think now Black coaches are more prepared because they have had to be prepared.”
Other than Staley, the other Black female coaches in the tournament in include: Buffalo’s Felisha Legette-Jack, Arizona’s Adia Barnes, Notre Dame’s Niele Ivey, Kentucky’s Kyra Elzy, UT-Arlington’s Shereka Wright, Georgia’s Joni Taylor, Ole Miss’ Yolett McPhee-McCuin, Missouri State’s Amaka Agugua-Hamilton, Delaware’s Natasha Adair, Jackson State’s Tomekia Reed and Howard’s Ty Grace.
Out of all the women in the group, Staley is the longest-tenured in the group, having served as head coach of the Gamecocks since 2008. Three of the coaches, Ivey, Elzy and Wright have been head coaches for the shortest amount of time with all of them being hired in 2020, according to the Associated Press.
In the first round of the tourney, Grace’s Bison will be facing Staley’s Gamecocks. Grace led Howard to a win in the first-ever women’s First Four beating Incarnate Word in Columbia, South Carolina. After Howard’s win, Grace and Staley had a quick exchange in the hallway of the arena, according to the Associated Press.
Staley has been the legendary coach for all other Black female coaches to look up to; her success at South Carolina has been staggering and consistent for the past 13 years.
More from the Associated Press:
The Olympic gold medalist and national team coach has built the Gamecocks into one of the nation’s top programs, which annually has the highest fans attendance. Staley also signed a landmark contract for women, inking a $22.4 million, seven-year deal earlier this season.
“I’m in awe of her. I’m a groupie. She’s so great and gracious,” Legette-Jack said. “You call her, and you think you’re the most special person in the world. She does it with everybody.”
When Staley won the 2017 NCAA championship, along with the other Black women leading teams in the tournament, 70 Black female head coaches across the country received a piece of the championship net, according to the Associated Press.
Staley is standing as an example of what a Black woman can do for your college basketball program. She can hopefully lead the way for more Black women to receive an opportunity to shine on college basketball’s biggest stage.