Legendary coach Kay Yow memorialized

Jeniece Jamison
Technician Online, Senior Staff Writer
Aug 23, 2010

Tuesday afternoon, the former legendary women's basketball coach of the Wolfpack, Kay Yow, was memorialized for her contributions to the university.  To honor Yow, a garden was constructed in between Reynolds Coliseum and the Talley Student Center. This garden was named the Coaches' Corner and in the middle of it, a bronze statue of Yow now stands immortalizing her. 

Yow succumbed to her longstanding battle with breast cancer on January 24, 2009. She finished her career with 680 wins at State, five ACC regular season titles, four tournament titles and an Olympic gold medal in 1988. 

Before the unveiling of the statue, words were given by chancellor James Woodard and athletic director and younger sister of coach Yow, Debbie Yow. Linda Robuck, a close friend of Yow's, gave the closing remarks.

Tuesday's ceremony was the culmination of Kay Yow's dedication to her family and N.C. State University, according to Debbie Yow. 

"Two families mattered, the Yow family and the Wolfpack family," Debbie Yow said. "The combination of these two families completed her life professionally and personally. Today, all of you share your affection for Kay and celebrate the mark she left behind. I know that she is alive and listening today, and that she is happy with no cancer. "

Senior Jeffrey Johnson, the student athletic director, said the most important aspect of this memorial is that the student body, not university officials, drove the project. 

"The idea came from a student, an exit poll for our student body president election," Johnson said. "Coach Yow meant so much to our student body that it would be fitting for us to do a memorial for her. "

Funding for the project was raised through donations from the students, alumni, and season ticket holders.

"I think because the student body wanted it done it meant so much more and it guaranteed that it would happen," Johnson said. "We raised the money through a series of letters to former players, season ticket holders and fans, by taking donations in the brickyard on campus and by selling t-shirts to students. "

Debbie Yow also said the students were the most important aspect of the memorial and that she envisions more coaches being enshrined in the garden in the future. 

"It would be so meaningful to her in general," Debbie Yow said. "The students did an outstanding job beginning the garden and I think other coaches will be added to the garden."

Jim Barnhill, the sculptor of the statue, said he was approached by the Yow family to construct the statue and based his portrayal of Yow off of pictures that were given to him by the Yow family. 

"I took photographs that Felicia (Yow) had sent me," Barnhill said. "Felicia had sent me a net just so I can get the notches. I know the Yow's. I know Ronnie (Yow), and I knew his son and my son played basketball together. Ronnie knew of my work."

He also revealed that the net that she is holding in the statue holds significance to her life.

"She is holding a victory net, it's somewhat allegorical of the last victory," Barnhill said.