Dawn Staley took time to point out that it wasn’t just this year’s team that won at least a piece of the SEC regular-season championship. It was a lot of the five teams before it.
It truly was.
I remember how tough Staley’s inaugural 10-win season was on her. She’s mentioned it every time her following teams had better and better seasons. That year, while there were a lot of reasons why it failed, was the only time she’s failed in basketball. It stuck in her mind as brightly as her three Olympic gold medals.
As she came back into the media room following Sunday’s victory and then watching Kentucky beat Texas A&M with her team in the locker room – awarding USC at least a piece of the title – her smile was as glowing as those medals. It took longer than she expected, but she got it.
No more mention of how USC was the tough little team that couldn’t get over the hump. No more last-day tiebreakers to leave them short of the top. The Gamecocks fought their tails off to win this, and now one more win gives them an undisputed championship.
Brionna Dickerson and La’Keisha Sutton and Ieasia Walker and the rest beamed as brightly as their coach from far away. Finally got it, coach.
This one is for all the builders who came before, just as much as it is for those who are here.