Local News

Reactions to Coach Kay Yow's passing

Posted January 24, 2009 1:54 p.m. EST
Updated January 26, 2009 5:07 p.m. EST

Stephanie Glance, assistant coach and interim women's basketball head coach at North Carolina State University

“It has been an honor and a privilege to work with Coach Yow for the last 15 seasons. I suddenly find myself grasping to retain everything she has ever said and ever taught me. She has instilled in each of us what it means to be winners as people, and if we are winners as people, then we will have our best shot at winning on the court. I know I speak for all former and current players and staff when I say with a swell of heartfelt emotion that she will truly be missed each moment of every day."

Sylvia Hatchell, women's basketball head coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"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 and her players."

Joanne P. McCallie, women's basketball head coach at Duke University

“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

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

Jacki Silar, Duke senior associate director of athletics

“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.”

Lee Fowler, Director of Athletics at N.C. State

"Everyone who had the privilege of knowing Kay Yow has a heavy heart today. Her record and the honors she has received over the years are evidence of her abilities as a coach, but the former student-athletes who come back year after year and bring their children to visit her are a testament to the type of person she was. She was a blessing to many people because of her strong faith. She faced every opponent, whether on the basketball court or in a hospital room, with dignity and grace. She will be greatly missed."

N.C. State Chancellor James Oblinger

"We have lost a great person, coach, leader and friend. Coach Yow’s courage, passion for her work, strength and humility despite her personal challenges inspired all of us. She epitomized what a coach and role model should be. Her influence will be felt for years to come. The Wolfpack Nation and everyone who followed her successes on the court and her struggles off the court were blessed by Kay Yow’s life. She will be profoundly missed."

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."

WBCA CEO Beth Bass

"Words cannot even begin to express the impact that Coach Yow had on me personally and on this Association. I have known her for 32 years, and she is by far one of the most amazing people I have had the opportunity to get to know. Her legacy and impact will continue to live on even in her passing through her Foundation leading us toward a cure. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her friends and family. This is a very sad day for all of us."

Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund President Marsha Sharp

"What a sad day for all of us with the loss of such a dear coach, friend and mentor, Kay Yow. It is humbling to serve as the President of the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund, and to have the opportunity to uphold her legacy of faith, integrity, inspiration and leadership through the Fund. I am positive that she would want us all to unite and find a way to continue the battle that she fought for years. We WILL find a cure for cancer."

Nick Valvano, Chief Executive Officer of The V Foundation for Cancer Research

"I am honored to have a Fund established in partnership with The V Foundation that bears the name of Kay Yow. Her courage, faith and legacy will continue to live on in the hearts of those she helped to inspire throughout her coaching career and battle with cancer."



Gov. Bev Perdue

"Coach Yow's leadership, her zest for life, her ability to make us all dig deeper represented the best of North Carolina. She was much more than a basketball coach. She was a teacher, a mentor and an inspirational leader. She was a devoted Christian; the way she lived her life was an example to us all; I never heard her curse or yell. We are all blessed to have been touched by her life and she will be sadly missed."

Sen. Kay Hagan

“As N.C. State’s coach for the past 34 years, Coach Yow accomplished as much on a basketball court as one person could. Coach Yow was a winner and a champion her entire career, winning more than 700 games, earning an Olympic Gold Medal in Seoul, capturing ACC Tournaments, taking her women to the Final Four, graduating her players and being inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

“But Coach Yow’s legacy lives on not only on the court that bears her name at the Reynolds Coliseum, but also in the countless number of lives she touched as a mentor, teacher and friend. Her long and brave 23-year fight with cancer was an inspiration to everyone who knew her, and especially to those who were battling cancer with her. Her compassion and humility will be remembered, and she will certainly be missed in basketball and in this state. Her battle with cancer and subsequent death remind all of us that in 2009, more still needs to be done to help identify and treat breast cancer.”

Dick Baddour, Director of Athletics at UNC

"It is with a profound sense of sadness that we learned of the passing of Kay Yow. She was a wonderful person, a Hall of Fame coach, a giant in college athletics and an inspiration to everyone who faces tremendous adversity and challenges. We celebrate her grace, dignity and the determination she displayed on the court and while battling cancer for more than 20 years. Coach Yow¹s spirit elevated the rivalry between our two schools and the game of basketball. Sylvia Hatchell and Beth Miller, our senior women¹s administrator, competed against Coach Yow¹s teams for 30-plus years, yet counted her as one of their dearest friends. That says a lot about the person she was and the class she displayed. I know everyone at the University of North Carolina joins me in expressing our deepest sympathies to the Yow family and the NC State community."

Katie Meier, Miami Head Women's Basketball Coach

"The sadness that everyone is feeling right now is from the void that is now in our lives. Kay Yow touched everyone that met her and millions that never had the opportunity. Her indomitable spirit and courage was an inspiration to all the people and families that have fought breast cancer. This classy and joyful woman is what coaches across the country try to model ourselves after. Her faith and dignity is what we try to instill into our student-athletes everyday. I have been truly blessed to have shared part of my life and memories with this beautiful woman."

Cristy McKinney,  Clemson Head Women's Basketball Coach and former player at NC State

"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."

Nancy Lieberman, ESPN basketball analyst and Basketball Hall of Fame member

"I don't know if there is anyway to sugar coat this. I love Kay Yow! For her lifetime of giving to her faith, friends and all of us in the basketball community. Her reach has touched generations and will influence how we go forward and treat people in the future. She is a Hall of Fame Women!"

 Gov. Beverly Perdue

"Coach Yow's leadership, her zest for life, her ability to make us all dig deeper represented the best of North Carolina. She was much more than a basketball coach. She was a teacher, a mentor, and an inspirational leader. She was a devoted Christian; the way she lived her life was an example to us all – I never heard her curse or yell. We are all blessed to have been touched by her life and she will be sadly missed."

Herb Sendek, Arizona State men's coach and former N.C. State coach

"I am grateful for the time I shared with Coach Yow. She was gentle, caring, and full of love. Her faith, strength, and courage inspired us. She will surely remain with us in special and everlasting ways."