Thanks for the ride, Coach Yow

Published 10:11 am Tuesday, January 27, 2009

If there is such a thing as a modern day pioneer, Kay Yow fit that bill.

This caring, genteel woman from the tiny town of Gibsonville, one that straddles the Alamance/Guilford County line, removed all barriers and blazed new trails within the sport of women’s basketball; not just within her beloved home state, but throughout the nation.

Following a courageous 22-year battle against breast cancer, Yow passed away on Saturday. She was 66 years young.

But before this grand lady drew her final breath, she took us all – male, female; black, white – on one heck’ava ride.

Hired in 1975 to nurture and grow the roots of women’s athletics at NC State University, Coach Yow transcended the athletic venues in Raleigh and the Atlantic Coast Conference. She became the proverbial “Godmother” of women’s collegiate basketball at a time where the men’s version of the game ruled the roost.

While there are more successful coaches in terms of the number of wins and national championships, none hold a candle to Kay Yow. She taught us all there’s much more to athletics and to the game of life other than winning and losing.

She taught us that love, courage, resilience and faith in God are the real four corners that support life.

She was an inspiration to millions of women around the world as she raised awareness and research funding for breast cancer.

During her illustrious coaching career, Yow led her team to ACC regular season and tournament titles. In 1988, she coached the U.S. team to an Olympic gold medal. She is a member of the James Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

But of all those accolades, her greatest legacy is that hard work, grit and determination will carry a person far in life…just as it did Kay Yow.