Jan. 24, 2009


After the passing of Kay Yow on Saturday morning, coaches, athletes and administrators from around the country weighed in on Yow's enduring legacy.

Tennessee's Pat Summit

Coach Summitt released the following thoughts about Yow:

“My heart goes out to the Yow family and the N.C. State Wolfpack nation on the passing of a truly remarkable lady and a dear friend in Kay Yow.

 “In the two decades she fought the disease, Kay never allowed herself to be victimized by cancer.  Kay never pitied herself.  Instead, she tried to bring awareness to the horrible disease that was robbing her of her life.  Through her foundation in conjunction with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) – The Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund, in partnership with The V Foundation for Cancer Research, she did all that she could do to help others.  That was just Kay. 

“Helping to get the cancer fund off the ground put Kay on a mission.  She fought for cancer funding the same way she fought the disease… positive and determined every step of the way.

“Kay was passionate about life and coaching.  She was a giver and she gave so much to every life she touched.  She made a difference in the lives of so many people, not just the life lessons she shared with her student-athletes at Elon or North Carolina State.”

Summitt on coaching with Kay Yow in the 1984 Olympics:   

“I was a young coach of 32 when I was asked to coach the 1984 Olympic Team.  When I decided who my number one assistant would be, I knew that I had to choose someone who would be loyal…who knew the game…someone I could trust and someone with great wisdom.  When it came time to make that decision, I picked Kay Yow. 

“Kay had great wisdom.  She had a special way of telling you things that you really didn’t want to hear but needed to.  Kay was not a ‘yes’ woman.  She accepted the challenge of helping me to bring home the first gold medal to the United States in women’s basketball.  It was a daunting task but Kay made it so much easier by helping to relieve the pressure.

“She was an excellent communicator and had such a great rapport with our Olympic players.  I learned so much from her on how to better communicate with your players.  She definitely always knew the pulse of our team and had a calmness about her that was so settling to me as a young coach trying to bring home the gold while playing in front of the home team USA fans.

“Those memories that I shared with Kay will last a lifetime and I will always look back at them fondly and think of her.”

Clemson's Cristy McKinney

"This is a hard day for me personally and professionally.  I was fortunate to be a member of Coach Yow's first N.C. State team.  That opportunity helped shape my career and my life.  Coach Yow has been my coach, my mentor and my friend for 34 years.  She was a remarkable, strong and passionate woman who was always there for the Wolfpack women family.  Although I feel a lot of sadness today, I also feel some peace because I know Coach Yow is in a better place.  Her faith allowed her to be the woman she was.  The world lost a special person today, but Heaven gained a special angel."

North Carolina's Sylvia Hatchell

"Kay was a real treasure to me.  She was a jewel of a person, an outstanding coach, but more than anything a dear friend.  She always represented herself and NC State with tremendous honor, grace and style, and her presence and competitive spirit will be greatly missed in the ACC.  I don't know of anyone in the world of women's basketball that doesn't owe a debt of gratitude to Kay.  She will truly be missed, and our thoughts and prayers are with her staff and her players."

Georgia Tech MaChelle Joseph

“Kay Yow represented what was good about our game. However, the impact she made on so many lives will live on forever. Her spirit and ability to bring out the best in those around her is her legacy. There is not a women’s basketball coach in the ACC or the country that has or has had the respect and admiration of their peers that Kay did. She will be missed by everyone".

Duke Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie

On her reaction:
“It was just so mixed. She has been such a warrior in terms of her fight and her struggle, but a part of me is just feeling great for her to be going home to a better place for her now. It’s hard to describe the feeling; it’s hard to put it into words. I’ve never seen a woman or known a woman to share a story, her story, so eloquently under such incredible conditions. The courage that she showed, a lot of people are afraid. They’re afraid to share their story. Kay was never afraid. I just know that it had to be a very peaceful thing for her. I’ve not known her very long, and I don’t know her extremely personally, but I feel like I know her character, and I think that’s the interesting thing about Kay Yow. You may not know her personally or had lunch perhaps, but the reality is you know her character and you know what she stands for. In our hearts, our thoughts, our prayers go out to North Carolina State and the entire North Carolina State family, that incredibly talented team. It’s much more personal and direct for them. We grieve with them, but we also celebrate with them. There’s a lot to celebrate there.

She transcends the basketball community. She’s been a historic leader in a very difficult circumstance for women’s health and issues. It transcends the game of basketball, and she was able to use the game of basketball in its proper context to make people better, to help people, to communicate. I still can never get over how ‘pink’ took over. The thing I’ll always think about with Kay is how she made pink. She made pink something special. For the longest time, pink was something soft and feminine and suddenly it became this courageous fight that everyone’s been united in, and that was one her many legacies. She made pink more beautiful than pink could ever be.”

Duke Junior Forward Joy Cheek

On the passing of N.C. State Coach Kay Yow and her reaction:
“I was saddened by it; Coach Yow is a pioneer of women’s basketball. She’s done so much for the women’s game. She’s a person that I’ve admired for her strength, her faith through all of this. She had so much love for us, even as opponents, just women who play basketball. I think she is someone who will be greatly missed and my prayers go out to their team.”

On what she has done to elevate the world of women’s basketball:
“I think that she’s given strength and courage to know that you can fight through things. Breast cancer is something that is taking over women, but I think that she’s given a lot of women confidence and courage to know that they can go on with their lives, that they can still do great things and impact others even with the cancer.”

On Coach Yow’s demeanor during recruiting:
“She was very warm and motherly, but you could still tell that she was very passionate about the game. She was encouraging and she was a great person to get to know.”

On how the team heard about the news of Coach Yow’s death:
“Coach P [Joanne P. McCallie] told us right after practice. We were glad that we all sent notes to her after our game at N.C. State, so we were glad that we were able to leave that with her: how much she has impacted our lives, our well wishes, our admiration, and that she is in our prayers.”

Duke Senior Associate Director of Athletics Jacki Silar

“This is a very sad day for the women's basketball community. Kay Yow was an extraordinary person, coach, mentor and friend to many people. Her courage, strength and determination throughout her battle with breast cancer is an inspiration to us all.”

Old Dominion Coach Wendy Larry

"I am extremely sadden over the passing of Sandra Kay Yow, my colleague and my friend.  Her professional resume speaks for itself, however it will be her incredible love of the game and her kindness that I will remember forever."

ACC Commissioner John Swofford

 “What an impact Kay had on so many.  Whether one of her players, an opposing coach, a friend, an associate in the world of sports or one who observed her grace, dignity, elegance, kindness and competitive spirit from a distance, you couldn’t help but be touched by her presence in our world. Kay was a very special lady.  All of us associated with the ACC will miss her immensely, and our thoughts and prayers go out to her family, loved ones and team.”