Saturday, January 24, 2009

Death of a Coach

Those who don't follow women's sports may not be familiar with the name of Kay Yow, but followers of women's college basketball will recognize the name.

The 66-year-old coach of North Carolina State's women's basketball team died of breast cancer today.

Her distinguished coaching career needs no embellishment from me or anyone else, but for those who are unfamiliar with her accomplishments, I will briefly list them here. She was the fifth winningest coach in women's college basketball. She began her coaching career at Elon College in 1971, then went on to North Carolina State in 1975, where she coached not only basketball but volleyball and softball as well.

She had more than 700 victories in her career, most of them at N.C. State. She coached the U.S. women's team to a silver medal in the 1981 World University Games, and she directed her squad to a gold medal at the 1986 Goodwill Games, She also coached a FIBA World Championship team and her U.S. team won a gold medal at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul.

Yow had been on a leave of absence to battle the disease, and the indomitable spirit she showed throughout her life suggests that she had every belief that she would prevail. A member of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame and only the fifth woman inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Yow was the inaugural recipient of the Jimmy V ESPY Award for Perseverance, which is named for Jim Valvano, another N.C. State basketball coach who lost his life to cancer in 1993.

She was an inspiration to many over the years. No doubt she will continue to be an inspiration long after her death.

No comments: