Is Dawn Staley Married? Details on South Carolina Coach’s Love Life and Special Bond With Lisa Boyer

Published 03/16/2024, 1:11 PM EDT

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Devoting her whole life to college basketball, Dawn Staley has rarely ever addressed her love life. Notably, Staley has never been married to anyone and has kept her personal life very private. However, it was speculated that she was romantically involved with the assistant coach, Lisa Boyer, over the last few years. The Gamecocks’ assistant coach has been the right-hand “rider” for Dawn Staley for over a decade now.

Rumors sparked in 2018, when Staley took to Twitter and wrote, “Boyer!! We are that old married couple who started young and will grow old together. You put the ride and die in the RIDE and DIE! Proud of you Boyer. Thanks for sacrificing your career to help to me serve our teams, program, university and state. What a ride?! ❤️❤️”

To which Lisa responded, “What Dawnnie?!?! 10 years!!! Went by in a blink. Laughs, tears, joys, disappointments, heartaches, and victories, BUT always shoulder to shoulder. Been a ton of fun so let’s get this next 10 started!!!#ualreadyknow #loyalisnameofgame.” The exact nature of their relationship remains unconfirmed. This tweet attracted a lot of attention from fans and was interpreted as Dawn being romantically involved with Lisa Boyer. However, neither Dawn nor Lisa ever confirmed it.

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Lisa Boyer was born and raised in Ogdensburg, New York, United States. Boyer had a successful career playing at Ohio State. She was coaching in several institutions before she joined the South Carolina Gamecocks. Dawn Staley was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 4, 1970. She started her career back in 1996. Before joining the WNBA and ABL, she played as a professional in Brazil, Italy, Spain, and France.

In 1998, she was drafted into the WNBA. Staley’s transition from player to coach was seamless. She gathered her disappointment of not winning the NCAA National Championship as a college player and turned her destiny around as the head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks in 2008. She was inducted into The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall as part of the Class of 2013.

Staley and Boyer’s professional collaboration has been remarkable as Boyer is Staley’s trusted collaborator on the coaching staff. The Head and Associate Coach duo has led the Gamecocks to outstanding achievements, including national championships.

Dawn Staley would not have been successful with the Gamecocks without Boyer’s expertise

Lisa Boyer and Dawn Staley have worked as coaches for 22 seasons together, 6 at Temple and 16 at Gamecocks. The two have shared various dynamics over the years. When Boyer took up the head coach job at Temple in 2000, Staley was still playing in the NBA. Boyer coached her for a season with the Philadelphia Rage of the defunct American Basketball League. But at that time Staley was in her early coaching days and wanted Boyer to help her with things apart from coaching.

In an interview a few years ago, Boyer said, “When we first started this coaching thing she was still playing, and I was (coaching) in the WNBA and she wanted me to come, but I couldn’t come at that time, in April… At the time she needed me for the general stuff like recruiting… She was on the (USA Basketball) National Team, the Olympic team, and was spending all that time away from the team.” However, after they moved on in separate tracks, it was not long for destiny to make their paths cross again.

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In 2008, Staley retired and leaped to become the coach at South Carolina. During that season, the team was ranked poorly. So to help South Carolina succeed, she wanted Boyer on her team. It was a big learning curve after they transitioned from Temple to South Carolina. After understanding the team Boyer felt that something had to be changed to get them better. She said, “By the second or third year I said ‘Dawn, we’ve got to find another way.’ All they’re hearing is the noise, they’re not hearing what you’re saying to them.’”

Boyer felt that if Staley changed her approach and developed bonds with the players, that would help the team to improve over time. She said, “You want to inspire them to work hard, to get them to set goals in a different way. I think you have to communicate differently… Dawn’s always been intense, but now she’s got a relationship with them.” She helped Stayley understand that when she expresses anger from the sidelines during a match, the kids would not understand why she’s doing that for that match. But if she shared a good dynamic with them off the court, that would make a big difference to them.

Soon after Staley started to express this side of herself, things changed for the team. Though it was something new for her to learn, it helped them get their 1st national title. In one instance, Staley was spotted grabbing forward A’ja Wilson’s mobile and clicking selfies with the team members. She even went on to post them on social media. During a National Championship win Boyer revealed, “She’s hilarious – they love her… Even in the huddle today they were messing with her. She dances with them, she hangs out with them. She can get on their level.”

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The Gamecocks’ players also echoed the same sentiment. In 2017 after the team won the title, A’ja Wilson said, “I really can’t put into words the feeling of how much it meant to win this game for Coach. She’s put in so much sweat, just voiced her voice into us… I think she really helped our confidence… It really means something special to kind of bring this back home, especially for such a great person like Coach Staley.” This showcased how the HC transferred her tough mentality to her team.

Notably, Boyer’s dedication, strategic insights, and coaching acumen have best befitted Dawn’s leadership like two pieces of a puzzle. She has been a right-hand woman for the Gamecocks HC, even the players believe this. During a match in Auburn when they were over the scout and playing around a lot, Boyer stepped in and reminded the team of something.

Recalling this incident, forward Sania Feagin said, “…I think (Fulwiley) had shot the ball and one of our teammates had blocked it. Boyer was like, ‘Listen! We need to stop doing that! We’re trying to work on something!… Whatever you need, you go to Boyer. She’s easy to talk to, and she just knows everything.” Another forward, Ashlyn Watkins also mentioned how Boyer helped her improve by making her watch her previous games and explain what she could have done better and why it would have worked. Watkins said, “… And it all sinks in to make me better.”

The dynamic duo have co-managed the team successfully and have been instrumental in its development over the decade. Dawn Staley revealed how Boyer has played a crucial role in the team and has always stepped up when she has swayed away from basketball. She took the assistant coach role more than seriously and has contributed almost equally to the team’s success.

The Gamecocks HC said, “I know that I would not have been as successful without her expertise… It’s really satisfying and comforting to know that Boyer is right by my side. If anybody says or does anything to me, watch out. I don’t have to say a word. Boyer will. She’s my rider. She’s my rider all the way through.”  Since Boyer has known her for such a long time, she understands her needs and delivers the best for the team even before Staley asks for anything.

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The Gamecock’s achievements with Staley and Boyer

Over the years with Gamecocks, Staley has been named National Coach of the Year four times (2014, 2020, 2022, 2023) with her 2020 unanimous selection making her the first former Naismith Player of the Year to earn the Naismith Coach of the Year award. They have 5 NCAA Final Fours in the last eight tournaments (2015, 2017, 2021, 2022, 2023). The team has six 30-win seasons, including a program-record 36 wins in 2022-23. They have ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll for 38 weeks straight.

The Gamecocks have 7 SEC Tournament titles (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021, 2023) and SEC regular-season championships (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2020, 2022, 2023). They have also been in 3 top-two recruiting classes (#1 in 2021, #1 in 2019, #2 in 2014). They have 9 NCAA Attendance titles (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023). To top the cake with a cherry they have 2 National Championships (2017, 2022).

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Talking about the present day, Staley and Boyer revamped the coaching staff, and recruited talented players, instilling in them discipline and work ethic as best traits. As a result, South Carolina consistently ranked among the top teams across the United States, competing fiercely in the SEC. As a result, their relationship may not be romantically inclined, but going through those years, working side by side makes them no less than each other’s family.

Read More: Deion Sanders Applauds Dawn Staley After Shutting Off Angel Reese and Co. in SEC Championship Game

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Written by:

Dimple Gupta

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Dimple Gupta is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Dimple is adept at in-depth coverage and brings insightful coverage with her captive chronicles. Her articles often discuss trade details, NIL deals, and other monetary aspects.
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Edited by:

Bilal Handoo