Yow was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987, but beat back the disease, which returned during the 2004-05 season. She has missed part of seasons since — but her departure this time has the feel that she may never again return to the bench.
Yow’s ability as a coach is unquestioned.
The original Coach Kay, she took over the Wolfpack program in 1975, long before anyone was mispronouncing the name of the men’s basketball coach at nearby Duke University. Yow’s N.C. State teams have won 738 games while losing just 333, earned four Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championships, 20 NCAA tournament bids and reached the Final Four in 1998.
In 1988, Yow, a year after she was first diagnosed with the energy-sapping cancer, coached the U.S. Olympic women’s team to the gold medal.
She leaves her players, fans and beloved university reluctantly, but understanding that she is again in a fight for her life.
“Stepping away from coaching is one of the hardest decisions I have had to make ...,” she said.
Despite her hardwood resume, Yow is probably a better person than she is a coach — popular not only with Wolfpack brethren, but with rivals as well, including those sporting shades of blue.
During her two-decade battle with cancer, she has exhibited great courage, but also class and dignity. She has been an inspiration to others with similar struggles, and on Dec. 3, put more muscle behind that effort.
During the Jimmy V. Classic that honors the late men’s basketball coach at N.C. State who died of cancer, the creation of the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund initiative of the V Foundation was announced. Money contributed to the fund will be used for research to fight women’s cancers.
You can send a message to Coach Yow by visiting the Web site: www.gopack.com//quest/Questionaire.dbml?SPSID=41890&SPID=3723&QID=1607&DB_OEM_ID=9200.
We will do so here: Get well coach.