COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA)—The South Carolina legislature honored USC’s national champion women’s basketball team Tuesday at the Statehouse, inviting the team and its coaches and staff into the House chamber for a joint assembly.
Lawmakers invited head coach Dawn Staley to speak to them. She told them that it’s not easy being a member of the team and playing for her. “We ask that they make a difference in the community, that they always represent themselves and the team with dignity and respect, and they are of good character and, most of all, they always do things the right way,” she said.
She also told lawmakers that, on the night USC won the national championship, she thought of the tragedy in 2015 when nine members of the Mother Emanuel AME Church were murdered in Charleston. She said the fact that lawmakers removed the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds after that incident helped fuel the team, since its removal allowed Greenville to host some of the NCAA tournament games. That gave USC an almost-home-court advantage, she said. She pointed to it as an example of lawmakers doing the right thing, which is what she stresses for her team.
After the joint assembly, the team was invited into Gov. Henry McMaster’s office. He presented them with the ten USC flags that flew over the Statehouse after the championship, along with certificates of authenticity. The first nine flags were raised, flown for a few seconds, and then lowered, while the tenth flew for two days. That tenth flag was framed with its certificate of authenticity and given to Coach Staley.
Gov. McMaster also gave Coach Staley the Order of the Silver Crescent, the state’s second-highest civilian honor. He said the only reason he couldn’t give her the state’s highest honor, the Order of the Palmetto, was because she had already been given that by Gov. Haley in 2013.