Jan. 29, 2009
As women's basketball programs across the country prepare for their WBCA Pink Zone events, an annual initiative dedicated to promoting breast cancer awareness, the spirit of the occasion has taken on a new meaning. On Saturday, January 24, long-time North Carolina State Head Women's Basketball Coach Kay Yow passed away after a long, heroic battle with breast cancer at the age of 66. The Hall of Fame coach was the face, the heart and the driving force behind the success of the WBCA Pink Zone and the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund. The Fund, launched in 2007 as the first women's initiative that the WBCA has chosen in its 27-year history, garnered the support of over 1,200 teams and organizations last season, reaching over 830,000 fans and raising over $930,000.
For the Yale University women's basketball program, the passing of Coach Yow came just six days prior to the first of six Ivy League home contests dedicated to the WBCA Pink Zone initiative. The Bulldogs will host Columbia (Friday, 7 p.m.) and Cornell (Saturday, 6 p.m.) this weekend. Yale, with the support of local donors, raised over $5,000 for the Smilow Cancer Hospital in New Haven as a part of last season's event.
"Kay contributed so much to women's basketball as a coach and as a person" said Chris Gobrecht, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball at Yale. "She must be extremely proud of how widespread the WBCA Think Pink initiative has become. It's a credit to her dedication and perseverance."
The 2008-09 Bulldogs met Coach Yow in November, as they faced her North Carolina State squad in the Subway Classic hosted by the University of Minnesota. Yale earned the win over the Wolfpack, 65-61, but, for the Bulldogs, the impact of the meeting has lasted long after the final horn sounded.
"The opportunity to play against Coach Yow and NC State was an honor and a memory that will stick with me for a long time. We are fortunate to have experienced a game against one of the most influential women's basketball coaches of all time and thankful for all that she has done for the game," said Yale captain Jamie Van Horne '09.
I was struck by how classy and hard-working her team was," recalled Gobrecht. "You could see the type of person Kay was by watching her players. It was a privilege to play against them."
Coach Yow once said, "When life kicks you, let it kick you forward". Yale women's basketball, among thousands of teams, organizations and fans across the country, felt that kick this past weekend upon hearing of Coach Yow's passing. But when the Bulldogs don their pink apparel and take the court this weekend as a part of the WBCA Pink Zone initiative to play the game that they love- the game Coach Yow loved- that kick will most certainly be a kick forward.
filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity