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Dawn Staley issues a call for more black coaches in personal essay (USA)

According to the NCAA, out of 327 Division I women’s basketball coaches, roughly 17 percent are African-American, and less than 12 percent are African-American women, despite the fact that African-Americans make up a strong plurality of the student-athletes.

Dawn Staley wants to change that.

In a personal essay published by the Players’ Tribune on Wednesday, Staley addressed the lack of black coaches, especially black female coaches, in elite women’s college basketball.

“I think I create an option for young black women, and I hope for more representation of all ethnicities in head coaching positions. I do think young black women have to understand how to navigate through life as a black woman. A lot of the girls playing basketball now — their paths to success are probably similar to mine,” Staley wrote.

Staley is one of two black women to win an NCAA women’s basketball title, and in the essay she addressed the complicated role race relations has played in her career as both a player at the University of Virginia and as a coach. As a student-athlete, she said she sometimes felt out of place on a mostly white campus. Now as a coach, Staley said she feels an added pressure to succeed because of her race while also confronting racial stereotypes.

The topic of representation in the sport is one that Staley has addressed before — in the Sweet 16 of last year’s NCAA tournament, Staley’s Gamecocks played Buffalo, coached by Felisha Legette-Jack, who is also black. After the game, both coaches spoke about the importance of their players having role models who look like them and the higher standard they believe black coaches are held to.

Staley’s essay Wednesday drew widespread praise on social media, with many of her fellow African-American coaches, including Legette-Jack, chiming in as well.


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