Saturday, January 24, 2009

Charlotte 49ers remember Kay Yow

The Charlotte 49ers held a moment of silence Saturday in honor of N.C. State women's basketball coach Kay Yow prior to their game with Dayton at Halton Arena.

Although not at the game, Judy Rose, Charlotte's athletics director and former women’s basketball coach spoke to The Observer about Yow.

“I’ve known Kay since I first came to Charlotte as basketball coach. Kay was always so genuine, never elegant or unapproachable, always so humble. She is synonymous with women’s basketball,” said Rose, who is attending the National Athletics Directors Mid-Winter Meetings in Marco Island, Fla.

“Kay was such a great mentor. You’ve seen this year all the former players and colleagues who have gone out of their way to be with Kay, work for her causes and do anything they can for her. They do that because they want to give back to her, because she gave so much to them.

“It doesn’t surprise me Kay made her fight with breast cancer such a public one. It’s my guess that was every bit intentional. She is a teacher, first and foremost, and this was a lesson in how you deal with tough things in life. She stood before the world and said, ‘I’m alive and I’m going to fight. Don’t give up.’

“I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend several minutes with Kay early in the season when our women’s team played in their tournament in Raleigh. She was sitting in the stands for our game, scouting our team and we visited for a little while. I’m so glad I had that chance. She will be greatly missed.”

After Saturday's game, won by Charlotte 60-57, 49ers coach Karen Aston talked about Yow: "There is an ultimate level of respect for Kay. When you think of the pioneers of the game, the names that come to mind for me are Pat (Summitt), Jody (Conrad), Kay and Vivian (Stringer). It’s because of what they did for the game before the game mattered to anyone. They loved the game for what it was and they went out and made it better and got it exposed for all of us to enjoy what we have today.

“If you knew her, you remember her graciousness, her kindness. She never met a stranger. We brought our team up there to play this year and we had a banquet the night before. She, obviously, wasn’t well at that point but took the time to meet with the teams, to give a talk to all the teams. She had pictures made with our players. She never didn’t take time to do those types of things. She tried to touch someone’s life with her example. She is an incredible role model for us as coaches and what she has done for the awareness of breast cancer is phenomenal.”