NC State, women's basketball, the Triangle, the sports world — hell, the entire world — lost one of its most inspirational and important people yesterday. Kay Yow, 66, the long-time head coach of the Wolfpack women's basketball team, succumbed yesterday after more than 20 years battling breast cancer.
I could go on and on about Yow: the stories I've heard, the admiration I — and many — have for the way she carried herself while publicly battling cancer, a dreadful disease that finds a way to touch everyone. I could also list her professional accomplishments, which include a place in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. — just two cities away from where I grew up. The News & Observer does this at length, and I'll let everyone read the words spoken by those who knew Yow personally and had their lives directly impacted by her compassion, dedication and good nature.
I never got to meet Yow. In fact, I never even attended an NC State women's basketball game at Reynolds Coliseum. I'll admit it — I haven't watched much women's basketball. In fact, the only time I really made an effort to sit down and watch it was because of Yow. During the 2006-07 season, Yow missed two months to battle a recurrence of her cancer. But she returned and led the Pack to the ACC Tournament title game — knocking off highly ranked rivals Duke and UNC along the way — and then the third round of the NCAA Tournament. It was an inspirational run, one that captured the attention of the entire nation. It definitely opened my eyes to the other side of Yow: not only was this woman inconceivably strong in the face of cancer, but she was a damn good coach.
This brings me back to exchange Bubba and I had just a few days back. I asked him what he thought about me using the site to try and raise money for childhood cancer research through the St. Baldrick's Foundation. Hurricanes fans may recall several players (Cam Ward, Nic Wallin, Dennis Seidenberg and broadcaster Tripp Tracy to name a few) shaving their heads to raise money for this worthy cause. Bubba, of course, thought it would be a great idea (he seemed especially supportive when he found out it would be my hair coming off. ... I'm kidding).
I was pondering going through with it the past couple days, but the news of Yow's death confirmed that this was something I needed to do. So March 7, 2009, at Hibernian Irish Pub & Restaurant in Cary, N.C., I'll be sitting down and losing my slowly-turning-gray locks for a good cause. I've set my goal at $500 and am hoping all our friends here at Canes Country can be part of trying to put an end to childhood cancer. I've started off by giving $25 — and my hair. I'll have more information on this in the next week or so — you can attend and watch my hair come off if you want — but I hope some of you can give a little, too.
Kay fought this fight for a long time. Now it's our turn.