The Daily Gamecock

Gamecock women's basketball celebrates national championship victory with parade on Main Street

The Gamecock women's basketball team continued celebrating its undefeated season with a parade on Main Street on April 14 — one week after winning its third national title in program history. The parade started at the intersection of Main and Laurel streets and ended on the steps of the Statehouse. Head coach Dawn Staley was filled with gratitude during her remarks, and both Staley and senior guard Te-Hina Paopao expressed the hope that they would celebrate again in 2025.

The City of Columbia and South Carolina fans came together Sunday afternoon for a parade to celebrate the Gamecock women’s basketball team’s third national championship. 

The parade also recognized the Gamecocks' undefeated season — one that culminated when South Carolina defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes 87-75 in Cleveland to win the national championship on April 7. 

The parade began at Main and Laurel streets and traveled down to Gervais Street, where the team was recognized on the steps of the Statehouse. The streets and surrounding areas were full of fans donning their garnet and black gear, while USC's marching band played music as the team arrived. 

The crowd at the Statehouse was relatively timid until the shiny national championship trophy was passed around by the team. 

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley was the star of the parade, arriving in a white Rolls-Royce riding down the road. 

Columbia Mayor Daniel Rickenmann, U.S. Rep. James Clyburn (D-District 6), university President Michael Amiridis, Athletics Director Ray Tanner and Staley all gave speeches. 

The South Carolina women’s basketball team brought the university, the state, the city and its fans an unbelievable season,” Rickenmann said. 

In addition to his speech, Rickenmann also recognized Staley as the first African-American Division I basketball coach to win three national championships. 

All members of the team were accounted for, even senior center Kamilla Cardoso, who missed the WNBA draft orientation ahead of Monday night’s draft, where she is expected to be a top-five pick. 

“If this is the last impression of what it is to be a national champion here at the University of South Carolina, you all have made it a special time for (Cardoso) to take on to the next level,” Staley said to the audience. “I thank you for giving her an awesome experience.” 

Clyburn presented a copy of the congressional record from April 10, recognizing the players and coaches of the national championship team in the House of Representatives. 

I’ve always been proud of my home state,” Clyburn said. “But I have never been more proud than I was sitting in Cleveland in that arena.” 

Staley made it a priority in her speech to thank as many people as she could for helping get the team to this spot, including performance coaches, athletic trainers and the practice squad of current students who are known as the Highlighters. Staley said the Highlighters were “the only team that beat us this year." 

She also gave fans one final thank you and looked forward to the end of next season. 

"I hope we can end our season with us all in the same place at the same time," Staley said. 

In President Amiridis’ remarks, he was quick to remind Gamecocks fans that it is only six months away from the 2024-25 season beginning, while praising the team’s success and work under Staley. 

Some people call it ‘Dawn-asty’, ‘dynasty.'" Amiridis said. "I don’t know the right word, but I know that you are building an empire."


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