A 21-year winning streak – Kay Yow

Jim Valvano is the college basketball figure most associated with the fight against cancer. However, his peer at NC State, women’s coach Kay Yow, is not one to be overlooked…by anyone. Ms. Yow was a fixture at NC State and women’s sports for more than 4 decades. She was and remains a legendary figure. Ms. Yow passed away in Jan. 2009 after a 21-year battle with cancer. I consider her 21-year battle her 21-year winning streak. While all streaks come to an end, the great ones we remember for the amazement it generated in us. From everything I have read, that seems abundantly true with Ms. Yow.

Please take a few minutes to read Mechelle Voepel’s great follow-up piece (she wrote one in Jan. 2009) on Kay Yow, the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund, and the great impact it is had already, and the need to build a sustainable effort now that Kay has passed, at http://sports.espn.go.com/ncw/columns/story?columnist=voepel_mechelle&id=4451856. An excerpt is provided below.


Carrying on Yow’s fight against cancer
Continued fund-raising, including 4Kay Golf Classic, and memorial stone honor legacy

By Mechelle Voepel, Special to ESPN.com

A year ago in Dallas, Kay Yow started to speak … and everyone else got quiet. The occasion was a gathering the night before the inaugural 4Kay Golf Classic. Yow wasn’t really saying “goodbye” … not directly, anyway. But in retrospect, it was a farewell to some of her colleagues who would not have the chance to see her again.

In January, Yow passed away after a battle with cancer that first began in 1987. Now it’s time for the golf classic again, and this time it’s in her home state of North Carolina.

“People will be coming together to honor her memory and her legacy,” said Stephanie Glance, Yow’s close friend and former assistant coach at NC State. “There will be a lot of talk about Kay, a lot of stories. Because, you know, she really was a funny person and a great storyteller. It will be a celebration of her life. Also, a celebration of the gifts she gave us.”

But it needs to be something else, too — an opportunity for everyone there to pledge that the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund will maintain as much vitality without its namesake as it had with her.

While that might seem obvious, it’s worth hammering home: The true measure of this fund will be its growth and longevity even though Yow is not there to promote it. One of the things the coaches said at last year’s golf event was that Yow was that rare individual who was universally loved and respected in her profession. So when she asked for something, nobody would turn her down.

But she can’t ask anymore. She can’t pick up the phone and call, or send a card or an e-mail.

“It’s going to be a much harder route without Kay,” said Marsha Sharp, the longtime Texas Tech coach who is now executive director of the Yow Fund. “She was in the media telling her own story, drawing people in. We have to find ways to keep people as passionate about it as they were when she was still with us.

(The article continues at http://sports.espn.go.com/ncw/columns/story?columnist=voepel_mechelle&id=4451856)