Vision 2020 National Advisor Dawn Staley is University of South Carolina women’s basketball head coach and three-time Olympic gold medalist:
What Women’s Equality Means to Me
When I think about equality, I reflect on my own experiences in athletics. From growing up in North Philadelphia proving to the boys who dominated the courts that I was capable of playing with them, I have seen the tremendous growth of opportunities for women in athletics. And I am thankful every day for the women who fought, on a much larger stage than mine on the basketball courts at 25th and Diamond, to show that all women should have an opportunity to play.
Early in my life, before I even knew my calling to play the game of basketball, those women laid the foundation for me to get a college education through their work to enact Title IX. From there, I joined my own set of pioneering women, and we proudly continued to march forward.
Using our USA Basketball and Olympic platforms, we helped launch two professional women’s basketball leagues in the United States, showing the next generation of girls that they could be professional athletes, could carry their nation’s flag in the Opening Ceremonies of an Olympic games.
Many of us coach that generation now, and I am charged again with helping them achieve their dreams. Their dreams are different than mine because my dream is now their reality, their normal. They dream of bigger things now – equal media exposure, equal financial reward for their dedication to the game, which matches that of any man.
As I work with them every day and see the possibilities for them, I feel a passion to renew the fight for them. The game of basketball has given me so much, and I will always give back to it with both hands. I know that I am coaching women who will do the same and, in the process, have the power to change the world we live in.