Living

Commentary: Yow was an inspiration for all

This editorial appeared in The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

She coached as long as she could. Even when her cancer, first diagnosed more than 20 years ago, had weakened her to the point of exhaustion. Yet it was as if Kay Yow, who died Saturday at the age of 66, were living by the words of another Wolfpack coach felled by the disease. Even as he was dying, Jim Valvano had said, "Never give up."

That was a message Kay Yow expressed, and lived, in every way. Take the numbers alone, and every sports fan likes numbers, and she stands with but a handful in both women's and men's coaching ranks who achieved the gold standards of success. Over 700 victories as a head coach, championships, Hall of Fame inductions.

Yow was one of an even smaller number, this one confined to the women who were coaching, who truly took their sport to a higher level, both in terms of the quality of competition and the venues where they played. Yow demanded and won respect for the women's game. Her influence went far beyond her team, her school, her Atlantic Coast Conference. The tall, silver-haired coach was a presence in any room. Her words were not ignored.

Born in Gibsonville on March 14, 1942, Yow held an undergraduate degree from East Carolina University and a master's from UNC-Greensboro. She coached a while in high school, then at Elon College, and then, in 1975, was hired by the late Willis Casey, athletics director, to coach women's basketball, softball and volleyball at N.C. State. Is there a personal and professional story that could be more steeped in the Old North State? Kay Yow, in other words, was one of us, and devoted her life to institutions here at home.

To read the complete editorial, visit The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

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