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Remembering Kay Yow

Travis MillerAnalyst IJanuary 24, 2009

If you work at a media outlet, you probably know deep within the computer systems, there's a folder containing obituaries for people who have yet to die.

It's not an insult to one's age or poor health—quite the contrary, actually. It's a tribute to the immense impact someone has had throughout their life.

Researching their laundry list of accolades is way too much to dump on one, two, or even three people who are trying to put something together on deadline, so the foundation and the big bulk of the story are already written.

Sports figures such as George Steinbrenner, Joe Paterno, and even Michael Jordan have one.

Kay Yow had one.

Yow, the head women's basketball coach at NC State, died Saturday at the age of 66 after a 22-year battle with breast cancer.

Hired in 1975, she won 680 games at the Wolfpack helm, and her 737 career wins rank sixth all-time among Division I women's basketball coaches.

Yow was a member of the coaching staff of the 1984 women's Olympic team which won the gold medal, then was the head coach of the gold-winning 1988 Olympic team, the year after she was initially diagnosed with cancer.

Though she never won an NCAA title, she coached the Wolfpack to a 20-win season 21 times, led her team to the NCAA Tournament 20 times, and peaked by reaching the Final Four in 1998.

In 2002, Yow was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame.

She coached alongside NC State men's basketball coach Jim Valvano from 1980-1990. Valvano was diagnosed with cancer in 1992 and died in 1993. The "V Foundation" is a charitable organization dedicated to cancer research in Jimmy V's name.

In 2007, Yow created the "Kay Yow/WCBA Cancer Fund" to work in partnership with the V Foundation.

Also in 2007, NC State named the court at Reynolds Coliseum after Yow.

In women's college basketball, which takes second stage to most everything in the sports world, Kay Yow is a legend. Though she can't match the NCAA Tournament success of legends like Pat Summitt, Yow will be remembered for much more than her coaching accolades.

To continue coaching for over two decades despite knowing of her illness, Yow deserves admiration of the entire sports world. She took multiple leaves of absence to deal with her battle, but continued to come back, showing strength and resolve nobody could expect from her.

This season's WCBA Pink Zone Breast Cancer awareness games in women's college basketball have recently begun, and will continue through the month of February.

Check the schedule of your local women's college team, get out there and support Kay Yow and the cause, and see some exciting, fundamentally sound basketball while you're at it.

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