Dawn Staley drives the Rolls-Royce Dawn to the “unusual” victory parade in South Carolina

Is there a cooler team than the South Carolina Gamecocks?

The women's college basketball national champions celebrated their second NCAA title in three years with a victory parade in Columbia, South Carolina, on Sunday. The Gamecocks defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes 87-75 on April 7 in Cleveland.

Fittingly, head coach Dawn Staley rolled through the city streets in a white Rolls-Royce Dawn. Mayor Daniel Rickenmann expressed how difficult it was to think about what to get the hottest coach in women's college basketball and presented her with a wrestling belt, which she held up to cheers from the crowd.

A celebratory video showed highlights from the Gamecocks tournament that capped an undefeated season, with Kirk Franklin and Lil Baby's song “We Win” serving as the soundtrack. Julia Westerman from local news agency WIS-10 reported that the Richland County coroner's office had a float with tombstones of all the teams South Carolina defeated en route to the title.

Te-Hina Paopao spoke a few words about the team's unity and promised fans: “It's time for our repeat tour.”

Kamilla Cardoso skipped the WNBA draft induction to be with her teammates. She drove a gray-green Chevrolet Corvette and hoisted the national championship trophy through the streets.

As the caravan reached its final destination at the State House, Staley, wearing a visor, round sunglasses, her pearl necklace and a black T-shirt, addressed the crowd and said, “Whoever gains something, loses nothing.” She gave a glimpse of the emotional speech, in which she mentioned “unusual favor” after winning the title game, which was revenge on Iowa after it was eliminated from the Final Four last season.

“I don’t know if everyone really understands what unusual favor is,” she said. “An unusual favor is when your mother or father tells you, 'I can show you better than I can tell you.' Having planned to be here during this time last year, it was not harvest time. And it was a devastating loss for everyone who took part. And it didn't destroy my faith, but I asked why. …God sometimes says, “I can show you better than I can tell you.”

Staley, who became the first Black female coach to win three national championships, thanked the school administration, local media and her team. With her expression of gratitude to the fans, she emphasized that this season was exceptional.

“The love you show us as we drove down Main Street is extraordinary,” she said, “and I really, really appreciate your love, your unconditional love.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dawn Staley, South Carolina celebrates NCAA title in victory parade

Anna Harden

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