Monday, March 25, 2019

My original idea for Man of Style came from an In Style magazine monthly feature piece. I happened upon one about Joshua Jackson (whom I ADORE. Seriously. I almost named my car Pacey, okay) and thought, hmm, this would make a great way to showcase super hottie athletes! Yum! It was supposed to be kinda fun and silly! But somewhere along the way, it’s turned a little more serious. Sure it is a showcase for some hotties but  I’ve really loved doing it and learned a lot about these great atheletes. Later this week I will feature Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald going head to head to compete for SportsMan of Style for the week but right now I want to focus on something a little more serious. A little closer to home. —————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

I know Phil Jackson. I know John Calipari. I know Coach K. I know Jimmy Valvano. Actually, I know the names of a lot of college and NBA coaches–past and present. But I am very sad to say I had never heard of Kay Yow until she passed away on Saturday,  January 24, 2009 and everyone was talking about her.

And sadly, unless you were a follower of women’s college basketball or live in North Carolina you probably had no idea who she was. Not to say she didn’t have a huge group of supporters and followers, but for more people, you may have heard her name but you would be hard pressed to know who she was or where she coached.

Kay Yow was the head coach of the North Carolina State’s women’s basketball team for over 34 years.

A few quick facts:

  • She was a coach in total for over 38 years!
  • She won over 700 games!

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  • She won four conference titles.
  • She was the coach of the 1988 winning Olympic team
  • She has been inducted into the  Women’s Basketball and the Naismith Halls of Fame.
  • In 2007,  she accepted the Jimmy V ESPY Award for Perseverance to a huge standing ovation. She had also a personal friend of Jimmy Valvano.

Even more importantly, she had been battling against breast cancer–and winning– for over 20 years. She never let it hold her back from what she loved.  In 1988, the year after she was first diagnosed, she lead the U.S. women’s basketball team to the gold in the Olympics. When she was entered Stage 4 in 2007, she refused to give up coaching to rest. Instead she said, ““But I have Stage 4 cancer. There is nothing that assures me that next year I could do it any more than I could now.” And she continued on through the 2008-2009 season until the beginning of January.

Her amazing story gave others so much hope and the efforts of her Cancer Research Fund helped others to believe and dream again. She was truly an inspiration to all.

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For my regular followers, you know of the Fabulous “Feel Good” Sports Moments Series that  just concluded. After reading about Kay, I discovered she was truly the embodiment of that series.  I’ve decided that it was only fitting today’s SportsWoman of Style tribute will be the final piece in that series: Courage.

“The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy.” ~John F. Kennedy

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“With courage, you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.” ~Keshavan Nair

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“Yesterday I dared to struggle. Today, I dared to win.” ~Bernadette Devlin

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Obit Kay Yow Basketball

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch,a smile, a kind word, a listening ear,

an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a live around.”

~Leo Buscaglia

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“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.” -North Carolina State athletic director Les Fowler N.C.

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More about Kay Yow and Jim Valvano

“Don’t let the urgent get in the way of the important” ~Kay Yow

kay-yow “The really great thing about her was she had the courage to fight the battle in public. As a result, she not only fought for her, she fought for everyone who has cancer or will have cancer and the families involved.” –Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Kryzewski

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“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” ~Lucius Annaeus Seneca

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Obit Kay Yow Basketball

This story would up being especially poignant for me. I lost my mother, Sandra, to pancreatic cancer only a few months ago. While reading Kay’s story, I discovered her first name is actually Sandra, as well.

As hard as it was to continue to read and to write this piece, a part of me felt compelled to do so. And when I finally finished—half a box of tissues later—I felt a bit of the weight that I’ve been carrying on my heart and shoulders lift away.

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For more information or to donate to the Kay Yow Cancer Research Fund, click either image below. They will take you to the official sites. For more on my Inspirational Sports Moments Series, begin with Hope.

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About the author: Jennifer Taglione is the owner of this fabulous website Stiletto Sports. Despite writing well over 500 posts, she still maintains that she is not a sports writer! She is however a huge fan of Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Mark Sanchez, the Celtics, and totally kicks butt on March Madness brackets! Connect with her by following her on Twitter @StilettoSportsJ and subscribing to her weekly newsletter. For more info check out the About the Editor page!

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2 Responses

  1. lezzymom Said,

    Thank you for highlighting this amazing woman. I have watched her through the years and while I have not followed her team it was hard not to be a fan of the coach. She was a force and through her foundation she will continue to help women for generations to come.

    Posted on January 26th, 2009 at 4:11 pm

  2. Stiletto Jen Said,

    Thank YOU for suggesting I cover it. I have learned to turn Sportscenter on now. But I can’t say I have evolved to actually listening to what they are saying. Baby steps! I really wish I had known about her a year ago!

    Posted on January 26th, 2009 at 4:23 pm



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