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Staley's back to the daily grind

By Associated Press
Published September 1, 2004

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Dawn Staley reluctantly posed with her third gold medal, seemingly eager to return it to its case and put her final Olympic experience behind her.

There is no such thing as rest in the world of an Olympian/NCAA coach/WNBA player. Staley has things to do.

"I'm just ready to move on to the next thing," she said Tuesday. "It's time to go to work."

That means resuming her position as point guard for the Charlotte Sting. The team offered to give Staley a few days' rest, but she was not interested.

Since returning from Greece on Sunday, Staley has been to Philadelphia to meet with assistant coaches and players at Temple and make sure all know what they are supposed to be doing in the coach's absence. Then she caught a Tuesday morning flight to Charlotte and was the first player at Sting practice an hour later.

It isn't in Staley's disposition to sit on the sideline. The 5-foot-6 guard from Philly has a to-do list a mile long - and reminiscing about her recent Olympic experience isn't on it.

Make no mistake, her third time on the U.S. team was remarkable. Staley represented the U.S. delegation, carrying the American flag during the Opening Ceremonies. And knowing that it would be her last Olympics, Staley savored every minute in Athens.

She took pictures. She asked for autographs. She mingled with athletes from other sports.

For the first time in her career, it was not all about playing basketball.

"I let it all soak in this time," she said. "In the past I was so engrossed on the gold medal, that I forgot about the journey. This time I really took advantage of everything else."

At 34, Staley is finished with international competition. She has her day job in Charlotte, where she has started every game since joining the Sting in 1999. And when the WNBA season is complete, she heads home to Philadelphia to coach the Temple women's team.

Eventually, she will put her sneakers away for good. She will hang a whistle around her neck and take a spot on the sideline, shifting her focus to full-time coaching.

Watching U.S. coach Van Chancellor celebrate the gold-medal win in Athens, Staley realized she, too, wants to know what it is like to coach a team to a title. First, she has some business to take care of on the court.

"A WNBA title is the one thing missing from her resume," said Charlotte guard Andrea Stinson, Staley's starting backcourt partner for six seasons. "We want to give it to her. I think once she wins one, that will be it for her."

The Sting lost to Los Angeles in the 2001 title series. Charlotte is in a three-way tie for second place in the East, with the division title and a shot at the title series a possibility.

Staley's knees have bothered her for years, and her teammates know she probably won't play much longer, though she refuses to set a timetable.

"As I get older, I actually feel better than I have," she said. "I want to continue and I will as long as I can, physically."

And for the record, she points out, the WNBA title is not the only thing missing from her resume. Staley also wants an NCAA championship, a title she fell short of in college. Her Virginia teams went to the Final Four three times, but played in one title game, losing to Tennessee. She still wants that title - albeit from the sideline at Temple.

"Everything I've achieved, if they can get me an NCAA title, it would be equivalent to my gold medal," she said.

WASHINGTON: Chamique Holdsclaw was placed on the injured list and she will miss at least three games. Holdsclaw has not disclosed her health problem, which sidelined her for three of Washington's four games before the Olympic break. She is the league's second-leading scorer behind Seattle's Lauren Jackson.

[Last modified September 1, 2004, 01:10:40]


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