10 Things You Didn't Know: Dawn Staley

dcloninger@thestate.comDecember 13, 2013 

Dawn Staley

TRACY GLANTZ — tglantz@thestate.com

1. She’s extremely shy. It may not look it from the way she handles herself in public and to the media, but Staley characterizes herself as pretty shy. It’s something she’s been since childhood. “People really thought I was mean, but it was more because I was shy. I don’t really like to talk.” Associate head coach Lisa Boyer calls Staley “the mute.” Staley sees it as she’s more observant and visual than talkative.

2. Staley has a shoe fetish. She grew up in an area where wearing a fresh new pair of sneakers made her feel good and drew a lot of respect from her schoolmates. That helped launch her Innersole initiative years later. At SEC Media Days, Staley was wearing a pair of black shoes covered with small spikes.

3. Her highest point total in a single game, Staley thinks, was 53 in high school. She reckons it was around 80 percent of the team’s total for that game.

4. Her All-American career at Virginia nearly didn’t get out of the blocks. “I almost got kicked out of UVa my first year.” Staley had a tough time transitioning to the academic load of college, and if she had had two straight bad semesters, she could have lost basketball. It got close, but Staley got herself straightened out before it reached that point. She uses that struggle to teach her players today. “The only place I really felt comfortable was the court. When basketball was going to get taken away, it kind of helped me straighten up. I tell our recruits, you have to tap into the same things for academics as you do for basketball. That’s what I had to do.”

5. Staley’s first memory is the boys in her neighborhood and on the playground calling her a tomboy. She described it as traumatic, but once she began whipping them on the court, it got a lot better. “You’re forcing them to accept you because of the quality of your work.”

6. Staley didn’t grow up thinking of being a ballplayer or a coach. “The only thing I wanted to be was an odds-beater.” Growing up where she grew up, she saw too many never escape that life. “People that grew up in the projects, they didn’t get out. The odds were stacked against those people, and once I figured out what the odds were and how people viewed people who grew up in the projects, I wanted to not be one of those statistics.”

7. Staley usually wears a necklace of several gold rings, bound by a black string. It doesn’t mean anything in particular except her devotion to wearing one thing at all times. “I bought this as a birthday gift a couple of years ago. I always like to find one thing that I wear, don’t really take it off, and this was it.”

8. She is addicted to Words with Friends. She got challenged by different people, and she’s never been one to turn down a challenge.

9. Staley is the only individual woman to win the Wanamaker Award, which is presented each year to the athlete, team or organization that has done to the most to reflect Philadelphia and the team or sport in which they excel. She is only of only three athletes (Joe Frazier, Steve Carlton) to twice win the award.

10. She has an incredible sweet tooth. She has to eat candy every day. Asked for a favorite, she answered, “I don’t discriminate.”

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