The Daily Gamecock

Review: Dawn Staley gives five rules for success in life, sport in 'The Playbook'

<p>Head coach Dawn Staley talks to players during a timeout at the first round of the NCAA playoffs in the Halton Arena on Friday.&nbsp;</p>

Head coach Dawn Staley talks to players during a timeout at the first round of the NCAA playoffs in the Halton Arena on Friday. 

South Carolina women's basketball head coach Dawn Staley is featured among four other championship coaches in a new Netflix documentary released Tuesday called "The Playbook." The documentary highlights the rules that the coaches live by for success in sports and in life. 

The episode was broken up into five different rules that Staley lives by. In summary, they highlight a spirit of perseverance that Staley has shown her entire life on and off the court and has tried to instill in every player, coach or fan that she has come in contact with.

Rule 1: Bring your own ball

The documentary starts off with Staley telling the story of growing up with all her siblings in the projects of Philadelphia. She tells stories of playing basketball anywhere, saying she had a "mean bank-shot off a [milk] crate basket."

Playing ball in the streets of Philly molded Staley into the player she was in college and in the pros. Growing up, she said the goal was to play on the "big boy court." Staley initially had trouble doing so and was faced with comments such as "you need to be in the kitchen," but eventually she found her way onto the court. 

Staley would bring a ball and implement her own rule that if the older kids used her ball, she got to play. It was through this and constant persistence that Staley found herself playing on the "big boy court."

Rule 2: Growth takes place outside of your comfort zone

The second rule stems from her college experience at the University of Virginia. Prior to her college years, race was never a big factor in Staley's life. She was mainly surrounded by people that looked exactly like her, so going to a predominantly white university was a bit of a culture shock.

She developed a quiet personality because she felt like she didn't have anyone to go to that was like her. This affected her personally and academically.

Staley described a meeting with the dean of the school at the time, where the dean told her that growth takes place outside of your comfort zone. This messaged resonated with Staley, and it's one that she constantly relays to players.

Rule 3: Create a home court advantage

From the beginning, Staley said that without fans in the stands, you can't recruit good players, which in turn means your team can't be good. Staley recounted that in her early days as coach of the Gamecocks, she could count on her hands the amount of fans that were in Colonial Life Arena.

Over time, the attendance numbers of the women's basketball games have clearly changed, and the Gamecocks have led the nation in attendance the last five years.

Staley gave credit to the fans for showing up and making players and everyone there "feel truly special."

Rule 4: The 24-hour rule

The creation of the 24-hour rule traces back Staley's loss in the 1991 National Championship versus Tennessee as a player. Staley said she had a tough time getting over the loss and watched the game "over and over again." 

The main objective with the 24-hour rule is to help Staley's teams move forward.Twenty-four hours gives the team time to "bask in [its] victory" or "agonize over [its] defeat." 

"You're either going to have the mental capacity to keep moving, or you don't" Staley said in the documentary.

Rule 5: What is delayed is not denied

After the Gamecocks lost to Notre Dame in the 2015 Final Four, Carolyn Peck, women's basketball analyst and championship-winning coach, gave Staley a piece of the net that she cut down after leading Purdue to a national title in 1999.

Staley said she kept that piece of net in her wallet for two years, using it as sign of hope that she would eventually break through and win a title herself.

She did in 2017, when the Gamecocks defeated Mississippi State, and Staley cut off an extra piece of the net to give to another coach, just as Peck had done with her.


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