At a time when we are all searching for role models for the young people in our community, one needs to look no further than Coach Kay Yow, the North Carolina State Women’s Head Basketball Coach. Coach Yow, who is a member of the Hall of Fame and tends to fly under the radar, is one of the most successful and most respected women’s basketball coaches.
I was fortunate enough to personally spend some time with Coach Yow several years ago, after she was initially diagnosed with breast cancer, and she attended our Pete Pavia Sports Celebrity Dinner. Recently, she has faced a recurrence of her cancer, having been diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. They say that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we deal with it. Following her recurrence, Coach Yow has had to undergo aggressive chemotherapy and miss many practices and time with her players and coaches, but despite that, and even in the sorrow of her father’s recent death, learning that her team had made it to the NCAA Playoffs, she was back courtside bringing her team to victory in the first game of the tournament.
Coach Yow’s dignity and courage is a demonstration to her team of how one deals with adversity and shows all of us that anything is possible. In a recent New York Times article, about this excellent coach and courageous woman, it is explained how she has followed the advice that she has given her team many times: “Don’t drown in self-pity. Swish your feet a little, then get out.”
Many people in big-time sports always talk the talk, but Coach Yow walks that talk everyday. Coach Yow provides an exceptional example not only for those who are fortunate enough to play for her, but for all of us, on how to overcome challenges and make the best out of the hand that we are dealt. She is truly an inspiration to me.