Getting up for work every day is hard. Now, imagine doing it every day…for over two decades…suffering with cancer. That’s what Kay Yow did. And, she did it possibly better than anyone else ever could have, touching lives and helping hopes and dreams come true. Clearly, she helped mold a generation of young women who will be successful and live much better lives because of Kay.
All the while, no one ever heard her complain or even mention that she was suffering with breast cancer. (Not that she hid it.) As North Carolina State’s Head Women’s Basketball Coach, she compiled an impressive resume…
Yow had a record of 737-344 over 38 years — 34 years with North Carolina– with countless milestones along the way. She coached the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team to a gold medal in 1988, won four Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championships, earned 20 NCAA tournament bids, and reached the Final Four in 1998. She was also inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2002. North Carolina State dedicated “Kay Yow Court” at Reynold’s Coliseum in 2007. As she was first diagnosed in 1987, she accomplished most of this while suffering with breast cancer. And, her fans know her for much more than just basketball wins.
They know her for the much more important things like: adherence to principles, morals, values, her unwavering resolve while fighting cancer, and how she raised awareness and money for research and stayed with her team even through the debilitating effects of cancer and chemotherapy.
Winning an Olympic Gold Medal pales in comparison to the bigger life lessons and life’s “games”
Kay Yow taught young women to compete – and win.
According to ESPN: She never flinched or complained, relying on her faith as the disease progressed. She commonly noted there were “other patients with harder battles than I’m fighting” and said it was inspiring for her to stay with her team. “Almost everybody is dealing with something…We’re all faced with a lot of tough issues that we’re dealing with…We know we need to just come to the court and let that be our catharsis in a way. You can’t bring it on the court with you, but we can all just think of basketball as an escape for a few hours… I have to go through it. I accept that, and I’m not panicked about it because the Lord is in control. But it just would be so saddening if I had to go through it and I couldn’t help people. But then I see I’m helping others in a greater way than I ever have. That’s the amazing thing, you know?”
For most of the 2007 season, Yow, weakened by the disease, sat on the bench while her Assistant Coach (Stephanie Glance) barked commands to her players. At times, she had to be helped to her feet. But, Yow always found ways to keep coaching and instilling faith in her players. Glance called her an “Iron Woman,” and players wore pink shoelaces in honor of their warrior leader. Even opposing players donned the pink laces to show their appreciation and respect. In fact, whenever Yow was in town, people would often stop her and say they were praying for her. This kept Kay going because she knew her efforts meant something. Her entire life and career were built around helping others and self sacrifice.
And Kay Yow’s message is more important for EVERYONE right now…more than any other time.
Many people are struggling. Or at least THINK they are struggling. Countless people have already given up because of a rough few months or year, when Kay Yow achieved just about all her massive success while fighting cancer for over 2 decades.
Next time you think things are so bad that you want to give up, think about Kay Yow and what she said: “If you start to dwell on the wrong things, it’ll take you down fast. Every morning I wake up and the first thing I think of is I’m thankful. I’m thankful for another day.”