Saturday, January 24, 2009

Coach Yow's Legacy and Light

When I checked Saturday morning alongside the story about Coach Kay Yow's death was an advertisement for her Hoops for Hope game on February 15th. At first it seemed inappropriate…wish someone would pull the ad…but no…Coach’s courageous battle with cancer and that basketball game stand together.

That was reinforced a couple of hours later when the mail arrived. There was a flyer for the game in our Time Warner bill. Hoops for Hope was everywhere I turned, and I’m confident Coach Yow wants it that way.

Brian Asbill, General Manager of Wolfpack Sports Marketing, remembers the inaugural Hoops for Hope:

When we first proposed the idea for the game, we didn't know if Coach Yow would want to put herself out there as the face of this disease when she had so many battles to fight on her own. Most people want to quietly fight these battles far from the limelight but Coach Yow never hesitated. I'll always remember Coach Yow telling me that she had been searching for some way to "give back" and she felt this game would be a way she could give hope to others who were fighting their own battles. She felt the name of the event said it all..."Hoops for Hope." Its purpose was to share hope for a better tomorrow, for more research, more education and hope for a cure.

So many things eventually developed from those early days of "Hoops for Hope". Kay's former players embraced it and took it to another level by suggesting to the WBCA that this should be a nationwide cause supported by schools all across the USA. That led to ESPN's involvement and more than 900 schools conducting events at games to raise funds for breast cancer programs. From that nationwide initiative came the Kay Yow WBCA Cancer Fund, which will ultimately be Coach Yow's lasting legacy.

Some times we can easily forget that just one simple action can make such a difference. Fortunately for us and many others, Kay Yow knew that all along....  

Indeed, Coach Yow is a legendary basketball coach, but her charisma was a captivating combination of her gifts and values. She was a competitor and motivator. A caring, loyal person. A truly gracious human being. A woman of great faith. A hoops luminary whose legacy even eclipses the game she so loved. And everyone loves Coach Yow!

More on Coach Yow at