As 2020 comes to a close, The Chronicle's sports department takes a look back at the biggest stories of the year in Duke athletics. Each day, we will review a major game, event or storyline that helped shape the course of the year for the Blue Devils. Check out the rest of the top 10 here.
Coming in at No. 2: Duke hires Kara Lawson as the school's next women's basketball next head coach following Joanne P. McCallie's sudden resignation.
Jarring is the first word to come to mind regarding Joanne P. McCallie's six-minute Twitter video July 2 announcing that she was stepping down as the Blue Devils' head coach. While it had been clear her tenure in Durham was in its twilight, there's no doubt the timing of the resignation took many by surprise.
Soon, however, the thought on everyone’s mind centered on who would take over and become the fifth head coach in Duke women's basketball history.
Though former Blue Devil legend Gail Goestenkors was widely thought to be a contender, that possibility was quickly ruled out. On the contrary, Duke’s search narrowed down to semifinalists including Rice head coach Tina Langley, Drake head coach Jennie Baranczyk and then-Boston Celtics assistant coach Kara Lawson.
And after a thorough process that involved Blue Devil upperclassmen such as Mikayla Boykin, Jade Williams and Onome Akinbode-James speaking with Duke’s future leader, it was finally announced: Kara Lawson would be the team's next head coach. More than two decades after the school nearly got her to don Duke blue—Lawson attended up playing for Pat Summitt at Tennessee instead—she would be leading the Blue Devils into their next era.
Lawson made an immediate impact. There was a different air about the press conferences. She went viral with her speeches during practices. And, as the first Black head coach in Duke basketball history, she spoke at Duke’s Black Lives Matter rally in August, being embraced by her team as she broke into tears.
It was truly a new era for Duke women's basketball.
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