First look at the Dawn Staley statue proposed for downtown Columbia

University of South Carolina women's basketball coach to be honored with bronze statue.  

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Last year, it was announced that South Carolina women's basketball head coach Dawn Staley would be honored with a bronze statue in downtown Columbia. Now, we can show you what the proposed statue will look like.

Artists Gillie and Marc have created the clay model from which the cast will be made for the bronze statue. The model shows Staley standing atop a ladder, holding a net cut from the rim of a basketball goal, something she has done at Colonial Life Arena following the team's championship wins.

The statue was commissioned by the City of Columbia after city officials were approached by Statues for Equity, a public arts funding group created by Gillie and Mac that aims to balance gender and racial representation in public statues. Funding for the $140,000 statue comes from a grant from Statues for Equity, local businesses and community leaders.

Plans are that the mold for the statue will be cast this spring, and the finished bronze statue will be unveiled at the corner of Gervais and Main streets later this year.

In a statement to the press, Columbia Mayor Daniel Rickenmann said he is "excited to honor Coach Staley with this statue as she continues to be an ambassador for the City of Columbia; leveling the playing field for girls and women in sports, and pushing for the same equal funding, attention, and respect as men's sports."

This year marks the 16th year for Staley as the head coach of the Gamecocks. Her teams have won national championships in 2017 and 2022, seven SEC regular season and tournament titles, and has reached the NCAA Women's Final Four five times. The Gamecocks are currently the Number 1 team in the country and are undefeated this season.

Before leading the Gamecocks, Staley played for the University of Virginia, leading her team to four NCAA Tournaments, three Final Fours, and one National Championship game. She was named ACC Female Athlete of the Year and National Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992. Staley played in the WNBA from 1999 to 2005, retiring from the Houston Comets. She was on the gold medal-winning US teams in the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics and returned to coach the gold medal 2020 Olympic team in Tokyo. Staley began her coaching career at Temple in 2000 and left there and became the head coach at USC in 2008.

Staley's statue will be the second statue honoring a women's basketball star in Columbia. A statue of A'ja Wilson -- Columbia native, Gamecock standout and WNBA star with the Las Vegas Aces -- was unveiled in January 2021 in front of Colonial Life Arena at 801 Lincoln St.


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