Raleigh Hero Winning in the Game of Life
Posted June 22, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH — Life is made up of extremes -- winning and losing, success and failure. It is the game of life, and heroes know how to play and persevere.
Last week in Raleigh, people in the community nominated five exceptional role models as heroes. One of those isKay Yow, head coach of theN.C.State Women's Basketball team.
Kay Yow says she had no intention of becoming a basketball coach. She wanted to be an English teacher.
The high school she applied to said, "We'll hire you as a teacher if you coach our team." The next thing you know, the team won the conference championship.
Yow was a coach alright.. When she wound up at N.C. State, it was the perfect match.
"I'm a big believer in knowing what you have when you have it," she says. There's not many things better than that."
Kay Yow has poured her life into basketball. So many dreams have come true. But more than anyone, Yow knows that the game is unpredictable. In life as in sport, there is both the thrill and the agony.
"I was diagnosed with breast cancer on August 5, 1987. It was a shock. At first, I thought they had to have made a mistake," she says. "And you know, that's a perfect example of highs and lows. Just a year later, I was at my highest point."
In 1988, Yow guided the U.S. Olympic Women's Basketball team to a gold medal.
"In the end, the gold medal is the award and what I have is the reward -- and that is all inside, it's in my heart. It's the rewards that far exceed the awards," she says.
Yow has been at N.C. State for 25 years. She has coached lots of games and taught lots of players. Because, she says, it really is so much more than a game. It is about reaching for the goal.
"Our greatness is like a flower. It droops and falls," she says. "Don't let the urgent get in the way of the important. Remember what counts in the end."
What really counts, says Yow, is faith, family and friends.
Her faith helped her recover from cancer. It has been 13 years since she was diagnosed, and she has had no other signs of the disease.
Her goal now? To win a national championship. For Kay Yow, no goal seems out of reach.