Kay Yow Leaves A Lasting Legacy

I have had the privilege of working with many athletes and personalities during my career.  None touched me as much as coach Kay Yow. Yesterday, God called her home after serving as his Ambassador on Earth for 66 years. Coach Yow was much more than a Hall of Fame coach.  She was a true inspiration.

She passed away Saturday morning after facing three bouts with breast cancer.  In addition to a Hall of Fame coaching career, 700+ career victories and an Olympic Gold Medal coaching Team USA in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Coach Yow leaves behind a lasting legacy, the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund, established in 2007 in conjunction with the Jimmy V Foundation, to raise funds to cure female cancers. 

I met Kay Yow for the first time last March when I spoke for an hour with her by phone to gather information for a story I was writing to help promote the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund.  We spoke about her memories coaching with her long-time friend and colleague at NC State, Jim Valvano, and her goals for the Fund, her perseverance in battling through breast cancer, and her strong religious faith.

I told her how I had admired her ability to soldier on as she faced her health struggles and I shared with her the memory of my own mother doing the same as she battled breast cancer. Then, in June, I got the chance to meet her in person when she came to New York to conduct a couple of interviews I had set up.  She could not have been more gracious.  Accompanied by her assistant coach Stephanie Glance and Brittany Harmon of Fishbaitmarketing, we traveled around the city to interviews at the New York Times and Bloomberg TV.

I felt as if I knew her my entire life.  That’s how she made anyone in her presence feel.  A short time after her New York visit I received a package. It contained an autographed basketball from Kay Yow and a letter from her thanking me for setting up the interviews and for the conversations we had shared.  This is an item I cherish and proudly display in my office.

This world has lost a great ambassador for courage.  However, her legacy lives on with the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund.  Like her friend, Jim Valvano, she will continue to be a winner in our eyes, not for coaching victories, but for inspiring others to find a cure for this dreaded disease.

Please remember Coach Yow in your prayers. Following is a link to a video newsfeed we developed and distributed on Saturday to networks, to raise awareness for her true legacy, cancer research.

 Video Link:




 Tom Cosentino




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