North Carolina State Head Coach Kay Yow Dies At 66

Doing what I do with the interview, I have literally hundreds of people on my radar. If it wasn’t for the transcribing process, you definitely would see a lot more interviews than you already do here on TSF. Of course there are the biggest and the baddest: Mike, Tiger, Barry…as well as the last but not least: doctors, teachers or any other genuine public servant. I’m inspired by their love and dedication to not only what they do, but to people in general. I do this as a fan first to give you a perspective most are not interested in giving. It’s never about me.

One person in particular I definitely had in mind was Kay Yow and sadly, I won’t get the chance. Initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987, Kay fought the disease long and hard until she finally succumbed this morning.

Just like when Pop Pop died, I cried this morning when I heard the news. All I could say was “No.” I was texting back and forth with Temple about Smooth Jazz going off for 46 when I saw it go across the wire. Kay was a straight soldier with the mind, heart and yes soul, of an angel. Everyone loved her and it had nothing to do with her accomplishments. She was very much a fierce competitor but more importantly, she was also a great coach.

She coached the U.S. Olympic 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 had 21 20 win seasons. Like so many of the greats, she began her coaching career on the high school level. I was so moved when she was back on the sidelines doing what she loved the best, helping girls take it to the next level and becoming women. She was a lot like Coach Chaney in that regard. It just so happened she was also a coach and loved basketball more than most. In 38 years of coaching on the collegiate level, Kay was 722-333 in a career that began in 1971 with a head coaching stint at Elon College. It was at NC State where she obviously made her mark.

That 1998 team was so special. To see the Pack upset the 2nd ranked Carolina squad the day Kay Yow Court was dedicated was heart wrenching. Then the Wolfpack upset undefeated Duke in the ACC Final. It also shook me up to see NC State opponents rock the pink shoe strings honoring Kay’s cancer fight during their Final Four run.

When I’d heard she took the rest of this year off on January 6th, I immediately became worried she was just too tired to continue. It’s ironic she was the first recipient of the Jimmy V ESPY for perseverance. She fought breast cancer and never felt sorry for herself. So many women will be at a loss for not having the grand opportunity of meeting Kay Yow.

Born in Gibsonville, NC, she came from a family who loved sports. Her sister Debbie is athletic director at University of Maryland and her sister Susan has coached at UNC Wilmington, Drake, Providence, East Tennessee State, Kansas State and also on the pro level as an assistant with the Minnesota Lynx, Cleveland Rockers and Charlotte Sting.

God bless your spirit Kay. I would have been honored if my daughter Taylor one day had the chance to play for you. Now she definitely will know your name for just similar to Buck, you were always right on time.

A Sharing the Victory interview with Kay..

Please support the fight against breast cancer.

4 Responses to “North Carolina State Head Coach Kay Yow Dies At 66”

  1. alisa says:

    your really cool and i LOVE basketball its AWESOME

  2. Jemele says:

    I’m glad you did this post. Kay Yow is one of those names often overlooked. I covered her for two years. She had integrity, was tough and someone I truly respected. She protected her players fiercely, but she demanded the best.

    I was there in ’98 when she made her first and only Final Four (Chasity Melvin, what?) People forget the ballers that came out of NC State…Chasity, Rhonda Mapp, Andrea Stinson…true pioneers.

    Anyway, I’ve been thinking of Kay all day. As a reporter, she made sure I stayed on my toes. I’ll miss her.

  3. michelle says:

    R.I.P.

  4. Joe Foster says:

    As an alum of NC State, the news of Coach Yow’s passing hit me particularly hard. I came to State just as Jimmy V was diagnosed with cancer. Matter of fact; I used to play pickup games with Andrea Stinson and Rhonda Mapp. Nice to remember those times, but now I have to fight back the tears because my thoughts always turn to Coach Yow. Thanks for the post and keep up the great work here on this site

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