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“Never let the urgent get in the way of the important.”

by Callie from Roxboro

Kay Yow

Sandra Kay Yow was born March 14, 1942 in Gibsonville, North Carolina. She attended Gibsonville High School and majored in English at East Carolina University in 1964. After she graduated, Kay became an English teacher, librarian, and coached girls' basketball at Allen Jay High School in High Point, NC. She later earned her Master’s degree in Physical Education from UNCG in 1970, and then became the women’s athletics coordinator and the women’s basketball coach at Elon University. Kay became NC State's first ever full-time women’s basketball coach. Also she coached volleyball and softball. Kay was selected for induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000. She reached the 600-win milestone for her career January 11, 2001 and the 700-win milestone on February 5, 2007. The basketball court at Reynolds Coliseum was renamed after her on February 15, 2007. During most of this you may not have guessed, but Kay Yow was battling breast cancer. Yow was first diagnosed with cancer in 1987.

Most people would have stopped and let cancer get them down. They would have just given up and let it interfere with their lives. Kay Yow let nothing about this little thing called cancer get in her way. She still did what she loved and loved what she did. She lived 22 years with this disease and only stopped when it was at its worst and that was because the doctor and the team thought it was best for her. Not once did she give up on life, nor her team; she was there through all the chemotherapy and all the hard days she had. Like she said, “Never let the urgent get in the way of the important.” This is a quote that everyone should live by; the urgent things in life are never better than the important.

She always put others before herself. She may have had cancer, but she started the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund for all the other people with this disease. Yow was also quoted as saying, "I normally shun the spotlight, but I don't mind being the platform." She didn't want the spotlight, but she got it and used it to help others. She used her fame to spread the word about helping find a cure. This is a quality that all heroes should have.

Kay Yow
Ms. Yow never backed down from a challenge. She treated this disease as a challenge that she had to get over. I admire Yow's perseverance; she always kept her head up during the hardest times. I look up to her because she had the strength to never give up hope. I will never back down from a challenge that is so small in middle school when she never backed down from her fight with cancer.

She will continue to be an inspiration to me and many others across North Carolina. I will always remember her as the coach that was always there for the team through "rain" and "shine." She is a great example of the strength that most women do and should carry with them. She is looked up to by many women and girls with or without cancer.

Written by Callie from Roxboro
Photos courtesy of chatamjournal.com, wbca.org, a.abcnews.com
Last changed on: 7/20/2009

ESPN Read a tribute to Sandra Kay Yow who passed away on January 24, 2009,

Women's Basketball Hall of Fame Kay Yow was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000.

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