Even though Dawn Staley has been the head women's basketball coach at South Carolina since 2008, the Philadelphia native's time at Temple University still means a lot to her.
That truth was reaffirmed Sunday night after Staley's Gamecocks won the national championship. Staley twice gave the Owls a shoutout during her postgame remarks.
The first time was when Staley was on stage, speaking to the crowd at American Airlines Center in Dallas and a national TV audience on ESPN:
I've got to go all the way back to my Temple days - those are the guys that really believed in our vision. We took that vision to South Carolina. And that vision was: We will be national champions if you stick with us, if you're disciplined, if you believe, OK? If you're willing to work hard. And all of these players believed in that. And I'm just so happy that our words are coming true today.
The second time came during Staley's postgame press conference, in response to a question from Doug Feinberg of the Associated Press:
Q.: Is that net ever going to come away from you, since you finally got one? What does it mean to you, to have been to the Final Four a few times as a player, to finally get the title?
A.: It means that, you know, I can check off one of the things that has been a void in my career. It's one of two, you know, opportunities that I saw women play when I was younger. National championship games and Olympics. Those were the things that I held dear and near to me when I was growing up, because those are the things that I wanted. That's what I saw. That's what I was shooting for.
When I couldn't get it done in college, I thought that was it. I never wanted to be a coach. I never wanted to, you know, be sitting where I'm sitting. Dave O'Brien, the late Dave O'Brien, the athletic director at Temple University, saw something in me that I didn't see in myself. He asked me to come and be a part of changing the program at Temple.
From then on, I really can't see myself doing anything other than what I'm doing, impacting the lives of young people, and also being able to check this box off in my career. I'm really grateful and thankful that he made this possible.