Former players, coach praised for laying groundwork for Gamecocks championship

Former players, coach praised for laying groundwork for Gamecocks championship

DALLAS, TX (WIS) -- A'ja Wilson has a lot to celebrate Monday morning, but so does all of Gamecock Nation.

While the team was presented with the Championship Trophy and Coaches trophy, and while they cut down the nets, the Gamecock faithful stood in the stands to continue to cheer on their team.

There were also former players at the game Sunday night-- who witnessed history. You'll often hear Coach Staley say the team is where they are now because of those who laid the foundation.

We caught up with former player Khadijah Sessions and some of those fans who say this moment is special because of what it took to get to this point.

"I just couldn't believe it, I still can't believe we were in the National Championship game. And just to see that Coach Staley won a national championship, brought it to Columbia South Carolina, it's unbelievable. I hope it sends a message to the country that South Carolina is nothing to play with," Sessions said.

"I just want to say thank you to Coach Staley, we've waited for this a long time-- I was sitting in the stands when Coach Walvius was there and no one was there. And you said you were going to do it and A'ja said she was bringing it back to the 803 and she did it! Thank you so much, we appreciate you! It's a great day to be a Gamecock!" said fan Kellie Robinson.

Robinson was referring to former head coach Susan Walvius. She coached South Carolina from 1997 to 2008. USC joined the SEC in 1991 and while those early years in the SEC were tough, under the watch Walvius, people began to take notice. And nearly 10 years later and under the direction of coach Dawn Staley, the whole world took notice Sunday.

We've heard Coach saying for days that this moment would mean the world and it's now a reality.

In addition to cutting the net and the trophy ceremony, after the game was a chance for the team to acknowledge the fans and reunite with their families.

"I can't even find the words right now, It just means so much to everyone. As I said, it takes a village to raise a child, all her coaches and everyone who has believed in her from day one," said Kiki Harrigan's mother, Michelle Herbert.

"He's been through everything with me. I just wouldn't be here without him. I'm very thankful for him, it's my father and I love him so much," said Victoria Patrick of her father, Hosea.

"I'm very proud. Very proud. She's worked very hard, they've worked very hard. I'm very happy," he said of Victoria.

"I am so excited for them. A young girl from Hopkins South Carolina! 29061! but I am so excited for them and we can't wait to get back to Columbia to celebrate and look for you there too," said A'ja Wilson's father, Roscoe.

As for the fans, many have followed this team for years and this moment was just as much of a dream come true for them as it was for the team.

Gamecock faithful stayed well after the nets came down to cheer and celebrate the new national champions.

"It's honestly surreal, everything I've dreamed about, everything I could have wanted and more, the confetti falling down, and just getting to celebrate all the hard work this team has put in. Those girls have worked so hard and Dawn Staley, she's the goat," said one fan.

"Thank you!! Awesome season.We love you, we love you. See you next year! We love Coach Staley, Contract extension baby!!" said another.

This is Staley's 9th season at USC. Talking to Staley after the game, she told me she's going to tell her players to enjoy this, soak up every moment.

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