Skip to main content
Original Issue

Dawn of a New Era Two-time Olympian Dawn Staley is reviving the women's program at Temple

During the six months between the time Dawn Staley accepted the
position as the women's coach at Temple last April and her first
day on the job in October, she had a few previous commitments to
meet. First, she played a full season at point guard with the
WNBA's Charlotte Sting. Then she had to complete a pre-Olympic
tour with the U.S. team. After that she traveled to Sydney and
won an Olympic gold medal just two weeks before the Owls' opening
practice. Despite those distractions, as well as the fact that
she had never coached a game at any level and was inheriting a
program that hadn't produced a winning season in more than a
decade, Staley has Temple off to an impressive 10-6 start this

Staley, 30, at first rejected Temple's job offer because she
never envisioned herself as a coach. However, Olympic teammate
Teresa Edwards persuaded her to reconsider. "I looked at my life
after basketball and saw this as a way to fill the void," says
Staley, who has one year left on her Sting contract and intends
to play for Charlotte this summer.

So a player who considers herself a student of the game has
become a teacher, albeit one whose pupils often address her by
her first name and who's by far the best player on the court at
practice. Staley often participates in drills with the Owls as
she instructs them in the up-tempo style she prefers. "Dawn
doesn't just talk the game, she still plays the game at the
highest level," says Temple associate head coach Shawn Campbell,
who recruited Staley to play at Virginia in 1988. "Players don't
mind hearing criticism from a Dream Teamer."

Staley is a Philadelphia hoops icon who grew up in the Raymond
Rosen housing project about a mile from the Temple gym and
attended Owls women's games. A two-time collegiate player of the
year at Virginia, she played in three Final Fours, and her
portrait is featured on a seven-story mural near the Temple
campus. Her obvious appeal as a recruiter is exemplified in the
Owls' 2001 incoming class, which is forecast to be Temple's best
ever. "I grew up watching Dawn on TV and wanting to be just like
her," says Owls freshman guard Christena Hamilton, a suburban
Philadelphia native and sister of Washington Wizards guard
Richard Hamilton. "Having my idol as a coach, well, that blows
my mind."

Staley's arrival marks the Dawn of a new era at Temple. A dormant
program that averaged 518 fans per game last season drew 1,754
for Staley's regular-season coaching debut, on Nov. 17, and
another 1,487 attended a promotion on Dec. 27 that gave fans the
opportunity to have their picture taken with one of Staley's two
gold medals. "Last year basically the same group of players
suffered from a loser's mentality," says Owls junior Lisa
Jakubowicz, "but Dawn's confidence is contagious."

Despite a 63-55 loss to Dayton on Sunday that dropped the Owls to
3-2 in the Atlantic 10, Temple has already equaled its victory
total of last season. "Coach is my title, but I really see this
more as a sisterhood," Staley says. "I have 14 little sisters,
and so far they're making our family proud."

--Tim Crothers