Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Right up there with Wilt Chamberlain

This USAToday profile of Dawn Staley is great.

It says in part:

By basketball standards, it has been hard for the 5-6 Dawn Staley to measure up.

She was always told she was too short, too little, too slow. But the more she was told she couldn't, the more determined she became.

"I grew up in the projects of North Philly," Staley says, "and the mentality of growing up there has helped me to maintain a certain level of aggressiveness, mental and physical toughness."

Staley, 36, is a three-time Olympic gold medalist, a five-time WNBA All-Star and made three Final Four appearances at the University of Virginia, where she was two-time NCAA player of the year.

. . .

The diminutive Philly kid is now using her basketball knowledge to make her mark in the coaching community.

After leading Temple to four NCAA Tournament berths, she was named an assistant on the 2006 USA women's world championship team. The two-time Atlantic 10 coach of the year hopes to be an assistant on the 2008 Olympic team and possibly the head coach at the 2012 Games. And there could be a WNBA head coaching position in her future.

. . .

Staley's impact on the women's game hasn't been limited to the basketball court. She has made a difference through her foundation.

Beginning next season, the WNBA's annual community award will be named the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award.

"She is the face of women's basketball right now because of her big heart," says Cynthia Cooper, the four-time WNBA champion and currently women's basketball coach at Prairie View A&M University. "She constantly gives back to the community. I think her heart comes from her parents, her background and the trials and tribulations she had not only growing up, but excelling at basketball."

The Dawn Staley Foundation at the Hank Gathers Recreation Center in Philadelphia focuses on academics and athletics and provides middle-school children with positive influences in their lives.

Staley's background and world travels prompted her to start the foundation and are what helps her recruit and relate to players from all backgrounds.

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