COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - While sports and politics inevitably find themselves crossing their prospective streams, University of South Carolina head women's basketball coach Dawn Staley said it was the work of the legislature that helped her team win a national title.
Staley and the Gamecocks were honored Tuesday during a joint session of the General Assembly and spoke of how the Confederate flag's removal finally set the wheels in motion for South Carolina to bring home a title.
"I also thought about that awful tragedy that our state suffered in 2015. I will never forget when I received word that Governor Haley had set the wheels in motion to remove the flag from the State House grounds. But I know the real work happened here. You tackled an issue that was weighed by history and marred by controversy. You put differences aside and worked together to craft the bill that led to the removal of the flag," Staley said. "You did it for the right reasons."
The flag was removed in July 2015 following the murders of nine African-American parishioners at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston by convicted killed Dylann Roof.
Staley said she and her team felt an immediate impact after the flag's removal and that they dedicated their play to honoring the victims in the tragedy.
Staley also referred to the legislature as "dream merchants" who helped the team make history.