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Women's Basketball

What C. Vivian Stringer means to me

Letters from Dawn Staley and Carolyn Peck, the only black coaches to win NCAA Division I women’s basketball titles

Editor’s note: On Tuesday night, C. Vivian Stringer became the first African-American coach in college basketball history to win 1,000 games. Dawn Staley and Carolyn Peck, the only black coaches to win NCAA Division I women’s basketball titles, share their thoughts on how the Basketball Hall of Famer made an impact on their careers.

Coach Stringer,

An example. A mentor. An icon.

I have admired you as a coach for so many years — as a player and later coaching against you. So much of what we are able to accomplish in women’s basketball today is because of what you have done. And you have done it in such an elegant way, reminding the rest of us in a profession that doesn’t have many African-American women to set the example for being successful, being respectful of the game and having great character when it comes to coaching young women.

You are such a powerful voice in our game, our profession, and never more than when you reach back to those who aspire to continue your legacy of growing our game. Whenever we cross paths, you always take time to share your vision and wisdom, to remind me that what we do, as African-American coaches, has impact beyond our programs and our immediate communities.

I have always embraced my role as dream merchant for my players, but it took your vision to expand mine, to remind me that my reach goes beyond those I see every day. You reminded me to be what you are — an advocate, a voice for our game and for every young woman who wants to participate in it in whatever form or fashion she chooses.

I know that I am not alone. I see the impact you have on so many coaches, like Jolette Law now on our staff, with whom you have shared the landmarks of your journey without insisting that they replicate your specific path. With incredible grace, you tell us what is to come on our coaching journey, give us a head start in thinking about what we will face, but always let us find our own way.

From just one of the many who have benefited from your road to each of these 1,000 career victories, congratulations and thank you. I am so proud of the enormous impact you have had on players and coaches. I can only hope to follow in your footsteps toward something as great as 1,000 wins and, more importantly, as immeasurable as the impact that you have had on so many young people.

Dawn Staley, South Carolina

Coach Stringer,

Congratulations on winning your 1,000th game. What an amazing accomplishment!!! This celebration is well-deserved. I want to personally thank you for being a trailblazer, a mentor and a role model. You have broken down barriers, and been a soldier for Title IX and an incredible ambassador for women and women’s basketball. I am sure there are many more W’s in your future.

Thank you, Coach Stringer, for all that you have done for women, for me and for the game.

Love you, Coach!

Carolyn Peck, Vanderbilt