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Women's History Month: Honoring South Carolina's Female Head Coaches
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Women's History Month: Honoring South Carolina's Female Head Coaches

by Brad Muller, Director of Content

As we close out women’s history month, South Carolina honors its current female head coaches who are making a difference in and out of their respective competitive playing arenas.

Kalen Anderson – Golf

Kalen Anderson is in her 14th year at South Carolina and has made the golf team one of the elite programs in the country. Under her guidance, the Gamecocks have reached the NCAA Championship eight times in the last 10 years and have won five NCAA Regional Tournaments since 2010. The program had reached the NCAA Championship a total of eight times since 1980 before Anderson became head coach.

The success continues in 2021 as the Gamecocks are currently ranked No. 1 in the nation this spring and have won a school-record four tournaments already this season.

During Anderson’s tenure, nine Gamecocks have earned All-America honors, which is more than double the number of honorees for the program prior to her arrival.

Additionally, five Gamecocks have gone on to play on the LPGA Tour after playing under Anderson at South Carolina as Katie Burnett, Katelyn Dambaugh, Justine Dreher, Nanna Madsen and Sarah Schmelzel have all found success at the highest level after their time as a Gamecock.

Boo Major – Equestrian

In her 22 years at South Carolina, Boo Major has led the Gamecocks to three NCEA Overall National Championships (2005, 2007, 2015), three consecutive NCEA Hunter Seat National Championships (2005, 2006, 2007), one Southern Equestrian Championship (2012), and two SEC Championships (2013, 2014).

Major was honored as the SEC Coach of the Year in 2013 and 2014 and was named National Coach of the Year by the National Collegiate Equestrian Association in 2014 and 2015. Major became the first University of South Carolina head coach to win back-to-back SEC championships (2013-2014)

In the first seven years at South Carolina, Major took 22 riders to compete as individuals to the IHSA National Championship, including 2004 National Champion Tara Brothers. Major also coached Kristen Terebesi, who in 2008 became the first person in NCEA history to win two individual national championships in a single season with titles in equitation on the flat and equitation over fences to sweep Hunter Seat honors at the 2008 NCEA National Championship.

In 2011, the NCEA began recognizing All-America teams, and Major has coached seven riders that were named First Team All-Americans a combined 12 times. Altogether, Gamecock riders have combined to earn 12 First Team All-America honors, seven Second Team All-America honors, and 17 Honorable Mention All-America honors.

Beverly Smith – Softball

Now in her 11th season leading the Gamecocks on the diamond, Smith has re-established South Carolina as a national contender while playing in the best conference in the nation where more than half of the league’s teams are commonly ranked among the top 25. She has led the Gamecocks to a program-record seven straight NCAA Tournaments prior to the season being shutdown midway through 2020 due to COVID-19. The Gamecocks also reached the NCAA Super Regional in 2018. The program had made the postseason just once in the six years prior to Smith’s arrival.

Smith is the second winningest coach in program history behind Hall of Famer Joyce Compton and prior to the shortened 2020 season, the Gamecocks have won 30 or more games for seven straight seasons, including a 49-win season in 2018.

Smith recruited and coached 2015 first team All-American Alaynie Page as well as 12 All-Region and eight All-SEC student-athletes during her time with the Gamecocks and the team is consistently ranked in the top 25 nationally.

Shelley Smith – Soccer

In 20 seasons as South Carolina’s head coach, Shelley Smith has built the program into a consistent winner and championship contender. Under Smith the Gamecocks have won five SEC Championships and have reached the NCAA Tournament in 12 of the last 13 seasons. South Carolina reached the College Cup Semifinals (Final Four) in 2017, and the Gamecocks have advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals four times since 2014.

With more than 300 wins in her career, she is the eighth woman at the NCAA Division I level to win 300 matches in a career.

Smith led the Gamecocks to SEC Regular Season Championships in 2011, 2016, and 2017, while winning the SEC Tournament Championship in 2009 and 2019. She was named SEC Coach of the Year in 2016 and 2017. Her teams have also excelled in the classroom, earning United Soccer Coaches All-Academic Team accolades 17 times since 2002.

Individually, the Gamecocks have earned 65 All-SEC Team honors under Smith’s watch, as well as 15 honorees as SEC Offensive, Defensive or Freshman Player of the Year. Additionally, 14 Gamecocks have earned United Soccer Coaches All-America honors.

The Gamecocks have a total of 10 current professionals around the world that have come through the women’s soccer program. The latest being Anna Patten who signed with Arsenal after the 2020 fall campaign.

Dawn Staley – Basketball

In 13 seasons as South Carolina’s head coach, Dawn Staley has transformed the Gamecocks into an elite national program. As South Carolina’s all-time wins leader, Staley has guided the Gamecocks to two NCAA Final Fours, including the 2017 National Championship, nine NCAA Tournaments, five SEC Regular Season Championships and six SEC Tournament Championships. The Gamecocks were also the consensus No.1 team in the nation after the 2019-2020 regular season, for which there was no NCAA Tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Staley was named National Coach of the Year in 2014 and 2020 and has been chosen as the SEC Coach of the Year four times (2014, 2015, 2016, 2020). Her teams have won 20 or more games for 10 straight seasons.

She has coached 2018 National Player of the Year, A’ja Wilson and 2020 National Freshman of the Year Aliyah Boston. Under Staley, six Gamecocks have collected 12 All-America selections, two have earned five SEC Player of the Year honors, three have earned SEC Defensive Player of the Year recognition a total of five times, one has been the SEC 6th Player of the Year and six were named SEC Freshman of the Year. She has coached 17 Gamecocks to All-SEC honors a combined 32 times, and eight Gamecocks have been selected in the WNBA Draft in the last five seasons, including 2018 No. 1 pick A’ja Wilson who went on to earn WNBA Rookie of the Year honors a year after Allisha Gray became the first Gamecock to capture the honor in 2017.

A leader in the community, Staley has helped the Gamecocks build a strong fan base which has led the nation in attendance for six straight years before the pandemic.