Yow will be greatly missed

Published 12:01 am Sunday, January 25, 2009

By By Kevin Travis, Sports Editor
Kay Yow won over 700 games in her illustrious coaching career.
But it’s not those wins that most people will remember.
It’s the heart, compassion, determination and unwavering spirit that Yow demonstrated each and every day.
Yow, a coaching legend at N.C. State, succumbed to cancer Saturday morning at the age of 66. Cancer struck Yow, a graduate of East Carolina University, a handful of times, the first coming in 1987.
She was able to beat cancer twice in her lifetime, and achieved so much in the process.
The Hall of Fame coach had a knack for getting the most from her players. While she won hundreds of games, Yow won over thousands of fans.
The sports world not only lost a great basketball coach, it lost a terrific person.
Yow wasn’t the type to ask, “Why me?”
She was stoic in her fight, and kept on coaching as long as she could. Yow’s courageous battle will be remembered and admired for a long time to come.
Cancer kills.
And it steals. It takes away those we love.
My father died of cancer. It snuck up on him quickly and brutally. Pops didn’t stand a chance, but I know he fought with every ounce of energy he had.
Trust me, the disease is not easy on the victim or the family. I can still picture Pops lying in a hospital bed, sheets covered up to his neck, trying to mask the pain.
You think that doesn’t affect a kid? I can remember it like it was yesterday.
I can’t help but cringe just a bit every time I hear or see that ugly six-letter word.
But thank God for all the good memories I have of him. And thank God for all the time that I did get to share with Pops.
Thank God for survivors.
I think about the bravery and unyielding desire of Washington High School sophomore Haley Hiatt, who beat Hodgkin’s Disease, and smile.
Thank God for those who fight, and give us hope.
I think about former N.C. State men’s coach Jimmy Valvano and remember his immortal words, “Don’t give up; don’t ever give up.”
Thank God for those who don’t let cancer dictate their lives.
I think about Yow and just shake my head at her courage and perseverance.
The N.C. State Wolfpack will return to the “Kay Yow Court” Thursday against Boston College. I can’t imagine there will be a dry eye inside Reynolds Coliseum.
Players, coaches and fans will undoubtedly mourn Yow’s death.
But they should also celebrate her life, a life that touched so many lives.
A life full of optimism, courage and desire.
Kevin Travis is the Sports Editor of the Washington Daily News. You may reach him at 940-4217, or by e-mail at Kevin@wdnweb.com.