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Anne Photograp News 2024

Dawn Staley is breaking barriers and empowering women
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Dawn Staley is breaking barriers and empowering women

The Women of Color Leadership Series, a joint effort between Katie Leadership Impact and St. Kate’s Athletics, is a powerful platform that celebrates leaders from diverse backgrounds. This series is a testament to our continued commitment to inclusivity and diversity. By connecting students and the community with these leaders, we want to inspire and motivate future leaders, encouraging them to make a meaningful difference in the world.

Dawn Staley is the keynote speaker for this year’s event. With three NCAA tournament victories, she is a shining example of what is possible when women take on leadership roles. Her achievements motivate countless women to transcend perceived limits and strive for greatness. “Empowering Women to Lead Through Athletics” is a statement that highlights Dawn Staley’s efforts to empower women to take on leadership roles in athletics.

Lea B. Olsen, a former Division One athlete and sports broadcaster, moderated the event. Staley received a standing ovation as she walked into a sold-out event. Staley was asked to compare the three teams she led to win national titles.

Olsen said she felt her team was the least competitive in 2017. The 2020 team was determined to win the championship after a viral meme of Aliyah Boston in tears circulated online last year. Due to a difficult start, the 2024 team was deemed unlikely to win a title. The coaches were dealing with non-basketball issues and the team was looking for validation from outsiders. Tessa Johnson, born in Minnesota and playing for South Carolina, needed help with her diet. Coach Staley laughed when she said she would replace meals with sweets, prompting the coaching staff to put her in touch with a nutritionist. Staley said it’s great as a coach to just focus on basketball. However, this team was the most competitive she had ever coached.

Staley spoke about the differences between men’s and women’s basketball and how we can challenge the media and others in 2021 to level the playing field. She confirmed that in the past there had been a lack of effort to promote women’s basketball, and that women were encouraged to be satisfied with what they had. However, over time, there has been an increase in demand for women’s basketball. She now feels it is her responsibility to contribute to the growth of the sport and support the people who practice it.

Staley said she had people around her who genuinely supported her. She said she had spoken to Denzel Washington and Barack Obama and that she had received flowers from Beyoncé. Coach Vivian Stringer is a confidante for her as she navigates this space, where she said being successful and Black means being treated differently. Staley deliberately avoided interviews with the national media because they did not recognize her team. According to Staley, Caitlin Clark received 80 percent of the media attention during the championship game because the focus was on her final college game and other players only received media snippets. Some media outlets provided equal coverage and recognition to all teams and players, while others did not.

Dawn Staley achieved great success. There was an electric atmosphere in the room and Staley’s powerful words resonated deeply, leaving a lasting impression on everyone present.