Kay Yow, inspiration

I’m embarrassed to admit, but I write this post in shock and sadness. I had not realized, not until reading an article in The New York Times (of all places!), just how serious NC State women’s basketball coach Kay Yow‘s cancer had progressed. The hall-of-fame legend who once coached the Olympic women’s team is at cancer’s grim mercies.

In my defense, I have to say that Coach Yow’s been a cancer survivor for so long that it just seems a part of her biography: Kay Yow? She beats cancer. The Road-Runner bests the Coyote, Jerry outwits Tom, and Kay Yow beats cancer.

Even when the cancer returned to sideline her this season by a resurgence, it just seemed scripted that she would beat it back again. So I really didn’t pay that much attention to the signs that her condition was seriously deteriorating. I just thought Yow was writing another chapter in her personal testimony to her faith, her will, and her strength.

Her faith even now inspires, more than ever. But alas, the flesh is weak.

Tonight, Coach Yow and the Lady Wolfpack will take the court at 7:30 in the RBC Center to face Baylor in the NCAA Tournament. This could be her last game in Raleigh; your last chance to cheer on a Wolfpack legend, an inspiration to millions, a great lady.

One might ask why Yow is coaching now, in her state. I think SFN poster noah answered that one:

I imagine that if I ever have cancer and it progresses to a certain point, I would spend my days doing what I loved most. I’d try to breathe as much air off the ocean as possible, I’d try to spend as much time with my wife and family and my dog as I could.

When I heard earlier this year that Yow’s cancer had reached THAT point, that there probably wasn’t going to be a rebound this time…I was sort of surprised that she kept working. Then it hit me…THIS is what she loves to do. Me sitting on the beach on a warm day tossing a tennis ball for my dog to chase and chatting with my wife and Coach Yow sitting on the sidelines watching her girls and teaching and encouraging them — those are emotional equals.

Today’s article in The News & Observer captures some of the spirit:

The N.C. State women’s basketball team talks a lot about faith and strength and courage.

They see those qualities daily in their coach, Kay Yow, who is battling cancer while leading the Wolfpack in the NCAA Women’s Tournament. …

Senior forward Marquetta Dickens thanked Yow for helping “me grow not only as a basketball player, but also in my faith.”

Senior guard Ashley Key thanked her for “being the type woman and coach she is, and for being like a mother.”

Junior forward Khadijah Whittington said Yow had given her strength to cope with her own father’s illness.

“She is one coach that every other coach likes,” [Baylor coach] Mulkey said. “She is as fine a Christian woman as you will ever meet. It’s a good opportunity for me to have the opportunity to coach against her.”

Thousands upon thousands of North Carolinians can attest to the truth of Mulkey’s comments. I remember years ago hearing Kay Yow’s personal testimony as a Christian. Year in and out I heard how she was traveling the state sharing her faith, never losing or compromising it despite the struggles. She is as wonderful a representative of the Wolfpack as we could have.

A team takes on the character of its coach. Yow’s praise for her squad this year reflects her own fight: “Personally, I’ve been overwhelmed and impressed by what this team has done and how they have pulled together,” Yow said. “When adversity happens, you have to find a way to overcome it to be successful, and I think this team understands that.”

Cancer can take away all my physical ability. It cannot touch my mind; it cannot touch my heart; and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.

Another great Wolfpacker said it. Kay Yow embodies it.

Go out and win, Coach Yow. No matter what, you will go out a winner.

General Kay Yow Quotes of Note

23 Responses to Kay Yow, inspiration

  1. WTNY 03/20/2007 at 2:55 PM #

    Well said.

  2. PackMan97 03/20/2007 at 2:57 PM #

    If you can find a way to make it to this game, DO IT!

    Yow has given 31 years to this University. While I pray that this is not her last game in Raleigh, only 1 out of 100 people recover from stage 4 breast cancer. She deserves to see a packed house tonight! Bring a red shirt to give to any Dookies that hang around after their game, I’m sure they’ll wear it.

    GO PACK! GO YOW!

  3. RedTerror29 03/20/2007 at 3:09 PM #

    As great as it was to experience a game in a packed and rowdy Reynolds…I wish I had saved the precious opportunity to cut out of work early so I could drive up to Raleigh for this game.

  4. noah 03/20/2007 at 3:09 PM #

    Coach Yow is one of the most respected, beloved people in all of her sport. While she isn’t as accomplished in wins and losses at someone like Pat Summit, EVERYONE in women’s basketball knows her name and smiles when you mention her name.

    When she made the Final Four a few years ago, people threw up their hands and cheered. They were so happy for her.

    I’m trying to think of a men’s college basketball equivalent. Maybe someone like a Henry Iba or a Ralph Miller. She’s just a cornerstone of the sport. She’s been there from the beginning and she’s done the heavy lifting, getting the sport where it is today.

  5. beowolf 03/20/2007 at 3:11 PM #

    Didn’t she lead her team to an upset win of the ACC Tournament in 1987, the same year V did? I seem to remember she did.

  6. Par Shooter 03/20/2007 at 3:15 PM #

    I got my tickets this morning and cannot wait to be there. I am taking my 8-year old daughter and told her that she was going to see a real living hero tonight. Based on the seats I was able to get through the box office this morning, I’m afraid there may not be a big crowd there tonight. But if you can make it out, there are good tickets to be had. It will be an honor for me personally to thank her for all that she has done for our university.

  7. Rick 03/20/2007 at 3:25 PM #

    I hate to hear that.
    I am like you in that I just expected her to beat it.

    She is an inspiration to all of us on how to live.

  8. Texpack 03/20/2007 at 4:16 PM #

    NC State has been blessed to have someone of the caliber and character of Kay Yow for these many years. I hope there will be a great crowd there tonight to give this great lady and her team a fitting send off to Fresno. We are all praying for you.

  9. primacyone 03/20/2007 at 4:19 PM #

    19 NCAA Appearances in 25 years
    1998 Final Four
    20, 20-win seasons
    Sweet 16, 10 Times
    1998 Elite Eight
    Five ACC Championships
    Four ACC Tournament Titles

    Kay Yow Believes!

  10. RedTerror29 03/20/2007 at 4:27 PM #

    ^Plus wins over two #1 seeds in the NCAA tournament (UNC and previously undefeated Duke) this year after Coach Yow came back. This team could really be special (like ’83 men’s special).

  11. Gene 03/20/2007 at 4:40 PM #

    I hope we win this for Coach Yow. My prayers are with her and for the team to pull of this win.

    GO PACK!

  12. rockwolf 03/20/2007 at 5:26 PM #

    Count me among those who were taken aback by the progression of the disease.

    IIRC, her olympic gold was a big upset. when the women won in ’84 the USSR and many communist countries stayed home.

  13. skywalkerdt 03/20/2007 at 5:28 PM #

    I have to say the quotation from Coach V fits perfectly and I believe Coach Yow would be incredibly proud and at the same time humbled to be mentioned in that same breath. Coach Yow is a staple of NCSU and that she is able to live each moment pursuing what she loves to do with those girls is one of the most remarkable things I’ve heard of in sports since V walked onto the Reynolds floor in ’93 at the 10 year celebration of the ’83 team. If you see this we believe in you Coach Yow!!!

  14. MrPlywood 03/20/2007 at 7:38 PM #

    32 – 32 at the half… One player for Baylor has more than half their points with 17…

  15. Pack92 03/20/2007 at 7:55 PM #

    This game has been GOOD. I really blew it not being there with my girls tonight. We did get to meet Kay 2 years ago at a DUke game in Reynolds and she signed autographs for at least 30 minutes after the game. SHe grew up about 5 miles away from my Mom and is just one of those solid as a rock NC ladies. God bless you Coach Yow.

  16. BJD95 03/20/2007 at 7:56 PM #

    I would have taken my daughters if not for a school event plus the NIT conflict.

  17. graywolf 03/20/2007 at 8:04 PM #

    She also lost her father last week, he was 87.

  18. gopack968 03/20/2007 at 8:05 PM #

    That article is nothing short of stunning. You hit it right on the head, Kay Yow, “Cancer Survivor,” had become almost an automatic phrase. Thanks to the NY Times for putting a term we had begun to use without true understanding into such stark reality.

    Up by 9 with 13:11 to go. Hard to know what to do at 9… probably switch back and forth. On second thought I’ll probably watch the women through the end and then see what’s up in Morgantown.

  19. MrPlywood 03/20/2007 at 9:13 PM #

    Way to go Pack! Go Pack!

  20. xphoenix87 03/20/2007 at 11:43 PM #

    As someone who has watched Wolfpack Women’s basketball for my whole life, it’s almost impossible to imagine them without Kay as the coach. She’s truly a hero and everything you could strive to be as a person. Our prayers are with you Coach Yow.

  21. Gene 03/21/2007 at 10:17 AM #

    One thing, which was driven home to me, watching what I could of last night’s game (ESPN2, where I live had the Maryland game on most of the time) is how much more there is to anything than just winning, when you do anything. I kind of felt no matter if we won or lost, the way Kay Yow manages the Wolfpack program, so many of the other positive things our basketball players need to learn as people have been accomplished and that is a victory in itself.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. StateFans Nation » Blog Archive » Wild, Wonderful West Virginia Game Thread - 03/20/2007

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  2. StateFans Nation » Blog Archive » Kay Yow wins ESPY Award named for Jim Valvano - 07/12/2007

    [...] It’s nice to see others have been inspired by NC State women’s basketball coach Kay Yow over the years! Per WRAL: North Carolina State women’s basketball coach Kay Yow won the inaugural Jimmy V ESPY for Perseverance on Wednesday. She was undergoing chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer while coaching the Wolfpack during this year’s NCAA tournament. [...]

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