Coaching community remembers Yow

January 24, 2009 2:31:51 PM PST
The death of North Carolina State coach Kay Yow prompted an outpouring of condolences and recollections on Saturday, especially from those in the coaching community who witnessed her long battle with breast cancer. "My heart goes out to the Yow family and the N.C. State Wolfpack nation on the passing of a truly remarkable lady and a dear friend," said Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, who learned of Yow's death Saturday in Opelika, Ala., where the Lady Vols are preparing to play Auburn on Sunday.

"In the two decades she fought the disease, Kay never allowed herself to be victimized by cancer," Summit said. "Kay never pitied herself. Instead, she tried to bring awareness to the horrible disease that was robbing her of her life."

Yow was first diagnosed with the disease in 1987. The Hall of Fame coach was admitted to WakeMed Cary Hospital last week, where she died early Saturday, North Carolina State spokeswoman Annabelle Myers said. Yow was 66.

She won 737 games in 38 years on the sideline and served on the board of The V Foundation for Cancer Research. It was founded by ESPN and former N.C. State men's coach Jim Valvano, her close friend who died of cancer in 1993.

Duke men's coach Mike Krzyzewski, who's been active in Coaches vs. Cancer for years, credited Yow for the "amazing awareness" she brought to the fight against cancer.

"The really great thing about her was she had the courage to fight the battle in public," Krzyzewski said after his second-ranked Blue Devils beat Maryland on Saturday. "As a result, she not only fought for her, she fought for everyone who has cancer or will have cancer and the families involved."

In partnership with The V Foundation, Yow joined efforts with the Women's Basketball Coaches Association to launch the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund.

"Helping to get the cancer fund off the ground put Kay on a mission," said Summit, who asked Yow to help her coach the 1984 U.S. Olympic team. "She fought for cancer funding the same way she fought the disease, positive and determined every step of the way.

"Kay had great wisdom. She had a special way of telling you things that you really didn't want to hear but needed to. Kay was not a 'yes' woman. She accepted the challenge of helping me to bring home the first gold medal to the United States in women's basketball. It was a daunting task but Kay made it so much easier by helping to relieve the pressure."

Duke women's coach Joanne McCallie said she would remember Yow for her courage.

"She has been such a warrior in terms of her fight and her struggle. But a part of me (is) feeling great for her to be going home to a better place for her now," McCallie said. "I've never known a woman to share her story so eloquently under such incredible conditions. A lot of people are afraid, they're afraid to share their story. And Kay was never afraid."

Debbie Antonelli, who played for Yow in the mid-1980s, has know her for more than 30 years.

"She's impacted everything about my personal life, including how I raise my children," said Antonelli, a color analyst for FOX.

"She's an incredible woman. She's a warrior with her battle. She gave a lifetime of service to her faith and to her family and her friends and certainly to all her former players."

Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph competed against Yow in the ACC.

"Kay Yow represented what was good about our game," she said.

"However, the impact she made on so many lives will live on forever. Her spirit and ability to bring out the best in those around her is her legacy."