North Carolina State’s beloved Women’s Basketball Coach, and Hall of Famer, Kay Yow, lost her fight against breast cancer on January 24, 2009 at age 66.

Kay Yow

Kay Yow, Raleigh Hall of Fame





After missing four straight games this season, Yow announced on January 6, 2009 that she would not return to coach this season. According to the NCS’s website, her entire team visited with her in her hospital room earlier this week.

Yow coached for 38 seasons, as ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel said, “from the birth of modern day women’s college basketball to a time when fans now expect to see several televised games a week.”

Who else was this successful at this high a level while always being universally liked? Who else inspired only admiration and never ire in her foes? Even her fiercest adversary — Cancer, with the capital C — would have expressed boundless admiration, were it an entity that could speak.

Kay Yow’s collegiate record is 737-344, with four of those years at Elon College. Her NC State record: 680-325. She is one of three women’s coaches at the Division I level to coach 1,000 games at one instutution. She took the the team to the Final Four in 1998 and 2002, and to Sweet 16 eleven times in her career. She is the fifth winningest active NCAA Division women’s basketball coach.

North Carolina State University lost another basketball coach, Jim Valvano, to cancer in 1993. He recruited family and friends to lead The V Foundation for Cancer Research. Kay Yow was one of those friends. She has been an integral part of the Foundation.

The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) set up a 501c(3) charitable organization in December 2007, in partnership with The V Foundation: The mission:

The Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund™ is 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.

Among her many awards:

Inducted into the Christian Athletes Hall of Champions – 1991

Inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000

Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002, only the 5th womens coach to be selected.

The North Carolina State University Reynolds Coliseum was renamed Kay Yow Court in her honor in 2007

Recipient of the Bob Bradley Spirit & Courage Award – 2007

Yow coached these Medal Winning U.S. WB teams:

Silver at 1981 World University Games – 1981

Gold U.S. teams in the goodwill Games and FIBA World Championship – 1986

Gold at Seoul Olympics – 1988

Here’s more from Voepel’s very personal tribute to Kay Yow:

Cancer first showed up in 1987 and took part of Yow’s body. Then, in 1993, it took her mother, Lib, and her good friend, fellow NC State coach Jim Valvano. Cancer took new pals she met as she comforted fellow warriors with the disease, which returned to her in 2004 and again in 2007. Cancer took her appetite, her cherished high energy, her restful sleep, her mornings and afternoons on the golf course. It took away any thoughts of a quiet, relaxing time beyond basketball.

Cancer took and took and took — yet there was always Kay Yow with something more to give to everyone around her.

Read Mechelle Voepel’s entire article:

Others speaking of Yow’s legacy:

Stephanie Glance, NCS interim head coach: “It has been an honor and privilege to work with Coast Yow for the last 15 seasons.”

Commissioner John Swofford, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) : “What an impact Kay had on so many.”

Debbie Antonelli played for Yow in the mid-1980’s and is now a Fox color analyst: “She gave a lifetime of service to her faith and to her family and her friends and certainly to all her former players. She impacted everything about my personal life, including how I raise my children.”

Georgia Tech WB Coach, MaChelle Joseph: “Yow has been a fixture for more than three decades…[she] represented what was good about our game.”

Bonnie Henrickson, Kansas State WB Coach: “…an unbelievable presence in our profession….I never heard anybody say a bad word about that woman.”

Joanne McCallie, Duke WB Coach remembers Yow: “…for her courage, particularly in how open she was as she fought cancer. A lot of people are afraid, they’re afraid to share their story. Kay was never afraid.”

Sandra Kay Yow was born in Gibsonville, NC on March 14, 1942.