Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sandra Kay Yow, 1942-2009

There have been quite a few of the college basketball websites that have spoken about how much Kay Yow meant to the world not just of women's college basketball, but college basketball, period. Kay Yow died this morning. She was 66.

I wanted to find a few quotes from Kay Yow. Instead, I was fortunate enough to find a long interview from Coach Yow. So I'm just going to let Coach Yow speak her own words.

One of the common themes from television commentators today was that Kay Yow was an extraordinary and wonderful person, a person whose death diminishes the mass of humanity. After reading the linked interview...I understand why.

Some quotes:

(* * *)

"They tried to explain to me what expectations were. And when people laid them out and there are rules and regulations and guidelines, that's what you do. There is a process to change those things, but just not to do them is not the process."

"I know if I ever complained my mom she would let me say what I would say, but then she might remind me, "Kay, the man without shoes felt bad until he met the man without feet."

"If you don't have something good to say about somebody, then don't say anything. It's hurtful. It tears people down, and the idea is to build people up. So you shouldn't be negative in that way about people."

"I just have a love for competition, and I feel it's a love in the right direction because I think competing with people rather than against people, it's just a mindset. It's how you arrange your mind about competition. I don't think you can perform as well when you go out with a mindset, 'I'm going to complete against these people.' It's nothing against anybody that you're competing with, but that's what you're doing, competing with them. You just give the best that you have and they give the best they have, and if at the end you've even gotten a little bit better because of that experience in itself. You know there can be only one winner on the score board, but there could be all winners, as people."

"Well, my philosophy on leadership—leadership is influence, and even greater, it's an inspiring influence. I'd have to say my leadership is probably based a lot on the word love. I have a strong faith, and in the Bible, in First Corinthians, chapter thirteen, there's a chapter that describes love, that entire chapter. It has a section where it starts saying love is kind, love is patient, love is self control, and when you go through that if you think of what they are talking about, or what God is talking about love to be, [it's] a leader. You can put, 'a leader is kind.' 'A leader is patient.' 'A leader is self control.' 'A leader is honest and truthful.' A leader is all of these things, and I feel that if leadership is based in love and service, this is my idea. "

"When I came to NC State, the thing that I hated most of all was we added women's varsity teams and we didn't add sports information people. We didn't add people in the equipment room. We didn't add in the cafeteria. We didn't add anywhere, in the strength training, I mean we didn't add personnel, but we added people that all of those people had to service and take care of and still get paid the same amount of money but additional load. Well, I saw that right away, and I knew that is a tough situation. I didn't make that decision. That's just the decision that had to be made at that time. NC State was wanting to give women an opportunity to play at the varsity level, and this is the only way they could do it at that time. So I knew from the beginning that some people would have some hard feelings, and understandably so. I always was just as cordial as I could be to everybody because I was understanding of that, and I tried not to ask for things that we really didn't need, only for things that we needed at that time. "

"Well, we become so much more visible. So many more people know what is happening with basketball. Then people want to get involved in it, and then everything with men's sports and men's basketball become our challenges. Everything. All of it. "

"Yes. Money, recruiting, everything. People have higher expectations because of more visibility. More people, then more temptation to get in the gray area for recruiting and then need more money. "

"It's almost like we need a psychiatrist, a sociologist, we need a social science person. We need all these people together to answer this question for us. I really feel that way. I would like for them to tell us why they won't accept women in sports. I'm not really sure of the people who are just head strong against women in sport. Everything that we have used to justify men in sports in higher institutions of learning has been about what they will get from the experience, the qualities and characteristics that will be developed to help them to be a success, and that they're the lifeline and sort of the heartbeat of the university. They are the school spirit. It's where it comes from. So why that wouldn't be for all people is an absolute mystery to me. It's just a societal, attitudinal problem. It will take generations to erase that, and we simply can't, I feel, do that much about it for those people until other generations come, and when they come into the world this is just the way it is. They don't know any other way. There's too many people still living that know other ways. It wasn't like this. "

"I have received letter after letter after letter of people who have thanked me for speaking out, and how much it has helped them. They say I've encouraged and motivated them in their own battle just from speeches I've given or from interviews that I've had or whatever. And then this past November, 2004, I had a diagnosis of a recurrence of breast cancer. Now the same thing. People call. People write. I meet people on the street. I just met someone yesterday who stopped me. She just wanted to thank me for being a role model. She's had breast cancer. It's been about a year, and she's open with it, and she's fighting it she says because I inspired her to do it. That makes me feel good, and I'm really glad because I know that people who stay positive and people who do what they can do, and they just stay strong and courageous, they have their best shot. And if I can help people to have that kind of mindset and that kind of attitude and to go on with their life I think they have the best chance. So I'm really glad to be a part of that, and I'll just continue to speak at places about it, to be a part of races that raise money for cancer research."

"I once read something that said the first third of your life is about learning. The second third is about earning, and the third part is about returning. Somehow I sort of think there's a lot of truth in that, though I think learning is a lifetime process so you never stop, but perhaps the main focus early is learning, and then you have that period of your life the main focus is earning, and then the last, the main focus is returning or serving...."

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