Sandra Kay Yow was born March 14, 1942 in Gibsonville North Carolina. Her love of the game started at age 7 and her dedication took her all the way to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
A former North Carolina State University head women’s basketball coach, past president and founding member of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) her voice became a galvanizing force for the WBCA. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987 and passed away on January 24, 2009, after facing her third bout with the disease.
The 2006-07 season, her 32nd with the Wolfpack, may have been the most tumultuous, but also maybe the most rewarding. Four games into the season, Yow was forced to take a leave of absence because of progression in her breast cancer. In all, Yow missed 16 games before making a triumphant return to the bench in a Wolfpack win over long-time rival Virginia on January 26.
The club began to feed off the emotion that Yow returned with and led her troops to 10 wins in their next 11 games, which included her 700th career victory and a win over No. 2 North Carolina. That evening on Senior Night, the Reynolds Coliseum court was christened “Kay Yow Court.” Not to be outdone, two weeks later the Wolfpack downed the then unbeaten and top-ranked Duke Blue Devils in the ACC Tournament. From that point on, the Wolfpack were the darlings of the women’s basketball world. With fans rooting for NC State from across the country, the club earned its 11th trip to the Sweet 16.
In her 38 years as head coach at the college level, Coach Yow was one of only six Division I head women’s basketball mentors to achieve 700 career victories. Yow guided her squads to 20 of the 27 NCAA Tournaments, 11 trips to the Sweet 16, and a trip to the Elite Eight and Final Four in 1998. Yow was part of an elite group of nine Olympic coaches chosen to lead USA Basketball in the pursuit of an Olympic gold medal in women’s basketball. During the 2008-09 season, Yow became only the third women’s basketball coach in NCAA Division I history to coach 1,000 games at one institution.
Yow won the inaugural Jimmy V ESPY for Perseverance at the 2007 ESPY Awards. Yow was named national Coach of the Year eight times. She is a member of numerous halls of fame, including the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Hall of Fame, the AIA Hall of Faith, the Raleigh Sports Hall of Fame, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
Kay Yow was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987, and passed away on January 24, 2009, after facing her third bout with the disease. Before her death, she joined forces with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and The V Foundation for Cancer Research to form the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization committed to being a part of finding an answer in the fight against women’s cancers through raising money for scientific research, assisting the underserved and unifying people for a common cause.
Since the Fund’s inception, $5.18 million has been granted for scientific research and related programs focused on women’s cancers thanks to the generosity and continued support of our donors. However, there’s still much more progress to be made in the scientific community in regards to cancer research. Get involved today by simply making an online donation, attending one of our national events and/or hosting a 4Kay Event in your local community. Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 659-3302.
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Many thanks to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund website for the above content.