South Carolina celebrates national championship with parade

(Bri Lewerke/Just Women's Sports)

The celebration continued Wednesday for South Carolina women’s basketball as the team and coach Dawn Staley were honored with a parade in downtown Columbia to celebrate their national championship.

Cars, floats and trucks were used to transport Staley, her players and staff to the South Carolina State House. There, they were honored by local and state officials.

Previously, the team had been recognized by the state’s lawmakers for its win, becoming the first team to be honored on the floor of the state legislature since the COVID-19 outbreak began in 2020.

“How much you love us really resonates with me,” Staley said at the podium Wednesday.

The mayor of Columbia, Daniel J. Rickenmann, alongside the city council then proclaimed that April is “South Carolina national championship month.”

“Why should we declare just one day National Championship Day?” Rickenmann said.  “So we just decided to declare the whole damn month, y’all.”

He also presented Staley with a key to the city.

The Gamecocks were also informed that they would be received and honored by the White House in a few weeks. In 2017, when the Gamecocks won their first title, the invitation didn’t come until after the team had started fall practice. The invite was declined by Staley, who said that they were focused on the season.

Staley took to Instagram Live to share some behind-the-scenes moments prior to the start of the parade. She also showed how she was honoring senior Destanni Henderson, who was not able to be present after being drafted by the Indiana Fever. According to Staley, Henderson is already in Indianapolis.

“Henny’s already in Indy but I’ve got her shorts on,” said Staley. “Go get your dream, Henny!”

South Carolina interim president Harris Pastides joked that they should keep the parade route “because we’re going to need it again next season.”

Staley echoed those comments, closing her speech by telling the players and fans that they’ll aim to “run it back” next season.