Tradition continues: Dawn Staley sends piece of net to every Black women’s basketball coach

Dawn Staley cuts down the net after South Carolina won the 2017 NCAA title
Getty Images

After leading South Carolina’s women’s basketball team to the 2017 NCAA title, head coach Dawn Staley turned the net she cut down into a fashion accessory. Her players jokingly nicknamed it her netlace.

“I mean she literally wore it everywhere,” Gamecocks player Kaela Davis told USA Today in 2017. “She went to a baseball game, she had the netlace on. She was walking around campus having the netlace on.”

At the time, Staley said it was her way of sharing her accomplishment with others. “I figuratively give them a piece of the net because there’s so many people, so many people are involved in a big accomplishment like winning a national championship,” she explained.

These days, the net sharing is no longer just figurative.

Earlier this week, envelopes postmarked from Columbia, South Carolina, began arriving at athletic departments around the country.

Contained inside? A piece of Staley’s 2017 national championship net.

ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: Top storylines for the 2021-22 women’s college basketball season

Staley continues net-sharing tradition with other Black women coaches

In 1999, Carolyn Peck became the first Black coach to win a women’s basketball national championship. “When I was described as the first, that meant there was going to be a second,” Peck told the Undefeated in 2017.

But for over a decade, Peck remained the sole member of that club.

In 2015, Peck decided to give Staley a piece of her 1999 net. But there was one condition: when Staley won her national title, she had to pass it on, Peck told her.

Staley tucked the piece of Peck’s net in her wallet and, two years later, she climbed the ladder at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, to cut her own championship net off of the hoop.

Staley returned her gifted piece of net back to Peck, but it took her a few years to pass her own net along. After she stopped wearing it as a netlace, she hung it from the rearview mirror of her car.

But ahead of the 2021-22 women’s basketball season, Staley – who signed a seven-year, 22.4 million dollar contract earlier this fall  – decided to send a piece of her net to every Black woman basketball head coach.

“I struggled to pick just one other coach to give mine to keep the tradition alive,” she wrote in a letter that accompanied each piece of net. “I don’t want to count black women as National Championship coaches by one every few decades; I want us to do it so often we lose count!”

She continued: “I pick ALL of you to receive this piece of our 2017 National Championship net in the hope that making our goal tangible will inspire you, as it did me, to keep pushing forward and us all to keep supporting each other in our journeys.”

As coaches around the country opened their envelopes, they posted their reaction on social media.

“This is dope, coach!” Weber State head coach Velaida Harris said upon realizing what Staley had sent her. “That’s why you’re beloved.”

Kennesaw State University head coach Octavia Blue called the net “one of the most amazing gifts ever given to me.”

“This is definitely going to be with me all season, and seasons to come,” Coastal Carolina University head coach Jaida Williams said in a video. “You are a motivation and inspiration, not only to myself, but countless women of color.”

Arizona’s Adia Barnes – who made history with Staley last April – hugged her piece of net, thanked Staley, and then added, “And hopefully I will be doing this one day.”

Women’s basketball coaches react to receiving a piece of net from South Carolina’s Dawn Staley


Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC