The Phoenix Club of Philadelphia was established in 2008 to recognize each year the achievements of the most outstanding male and female high school and collegiate basketball players from the Philadelphia Public League.
The awards are given in the names of former public league high school coaches and player legends.
In 2013, the Phoenix Club of Philadelphia established the Dawn Staley Award to recognize the nation’s best guard in Women’s Division I college basketball, tying one of the most accomplished women’s basketball players in the world from the Philadelphia public league to the nation’s best guard in women’s college basketball.
The Dawn Staley Award is given annually to a player who exemplifies the skills that Dawn possessed throughout her career; ball handling, scoring, her ability to distribute the basketball and her will to win.
In 2013, the inaugural award was presented to Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame). Last year, Odyssey Sims (Baylor) captured the award which is now of one of the most prestigious awards given annually in Women’s College Basketball.
Michael G. Horsey, CPA
Dawn Staley was born and raised in North Philadelphia where she graduated from Dobbins Tech High School. Dawn led the Mustangs to three public league championships, while earning USA today’s national high school player of the year in 1988.
She went on to a four-year career at the University of Virginia that featured three trips to the NCAA Final Four, including a championship game appearance in 1991 after which she was named Most Outstanding Player. A two-time National Player of the Year (1991, 1992) and three-time Kodak All-American (1990, 1991, and 1992), Staley was the ACC Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992 and the league's Rookie of the Year in 1989. Finishing her career as the only player in ACC history to record more than 2,000 points, 700 rebounds, 700 assists and 400 steals, Staley is one of three players at Virginia to have her jersey retired. She was named to the ACC's 50th Anniversary Women's Basketball Team in 2002 and earned a spot on ESPN’s "Top Players of the Past 25 Years." In April 2008, she was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
On the international scene, Staley made her first appearance in a USA Basketball uniform as a member of the 1989 Junior World Championship Team and 15 years later played her final international game after helping the organization to a 196-10 record. Olympic gold medals in 1996, 2000 and 2004 highlight her collection of 10 gold medals and one bronze on the world stage.
Following the 1996 Olympic Games, Staley joined the Richmond Rage of the ABL, one of two women's basketball professional leagues started in the wake of USA Basketball's success on the world stage. After two all-star seasons with the organization, she switched leagues, signing with the WNBA's Charlotte Sting in 1999. Including the 2005 and 2006 seasons with the Houston Comets, Staley played in the WNBA All-Star game five times and was the first player in league history to represent both the East and West teams during her career. A member of the WNBA's All-Decade Team, as selected by a panel of national and WNBA-market media as well as the league's players and coaches, Staley twice earned the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award (1999, 2006) and won the WNBA Entrepreneurial Spirit Award in 1999. Following her retirement from the league, the WNBA began awarding the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award in 2007, honoring the player who best exemplifies the characteristics of a leader in the community in which she works or lives.
Dawn became the head women’s basketball coach at Temple University in 2000, where in eight years she compiled 172 wins and four Atlantic 10 championships and six NCAA appearances.
Dawn became the head women’s basketball coach at the University of South Caroling in 2008, where in six years she has compiled 121 wins with four NCAA Appearances.
Local and national organizations have recognized her commitment to giving back. She has twice been presented the Wanamaker Award (1997, 2005), presented annually to the athlete, team or organization that has done the most to reflect credit upon Philadelphia and to the team or sport in which he/she excels. She is the only individual woman to ever win the award and joins Joe Frazier and Steve Carlton as the only individuals to capture the honor twice. In 2007, the Rotary Club of Tulsa named Staley its female recipient of the Henry P. Iba Citizenship Award, which is presented annually to the male and female athlete who has excelled in both their sport and their service to others.
Dawn was enshrined (2012) in the Women’s Basketball of Fame. She was also enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in September, 2013. In 2015, Dawn’s South Carolina Gamecocks won the regular and SEC Tournament Championships and guided her team to the school’s first ever Final Four appearance, while earning SEC Coach of Year.