As we spend this weekend thinking about N.C. State coach Kay Yow, we should remember this: Along with so many other wonderful qualities, she had a great sense of humor.
The Indiana Fever’s Lin Dunn was a pioneer in the women’s college game like Yow; Dunn began her career in 1970. Saturday, Dunn sent me an an e-mail sharing her memory of the funny side of Yow.
Kay was very quick-witted _ I think that’s what drew me to her as a friend 25 years ago when we were on the WBCA board and the Kodak committee together. She LOVED to laugh and have fun. Betty Jaynes would never let Kay and me sit together at board meetings because we talked and laughed too much!
One of the best times I had with Kay was when the early cell phones first came out. They were those big, old clunky things with an antenna sticking out. She and I were at an AAU tournament somewhere trying to figure out how to work them; one of us would go outside and try to call the other. Neither of us was very high-tech, and so we missed most of three games trying to (a) get the phones turned on; (b ) fix our voice-mail messages; and (c) retrieve a message. We laughed so hard we cried; I loved every minute of it!
As a journalist, one of my favorite funny memories of Yow was when she coached despite a case of laryngitis, which plagued her more than once in her career. Throughout the game, Yow would feverishly write things on her dry-erase board and show it to her team or her coaching staff.
Afterward, Yow came to the press conference along with assistant Stephanie Glance. It was hilarious. We’d ask Yow a question like, “Were you pleased with your defense?” Yow would nod vigorously, and Glance would say, “Coach Yow was pleased with the defense.”
You can just imagine what it was like back in the days when Yow got together with her friend Jim Valvano. He brought her lunch during her first bout with cancer/chemotherapy in 1987. She said he’d make her laugh so much she forgot that she didn’t have any appetite.
Now, we all have different ideas about the afterlife … but I’d like to think Yow’s first day there went something like this: She walked onto the first tee of the most gorgeous golf course she’d ever seen. It was 78 degrees, no wind, and don’t worry about the rays … you never have to wear sunscreen here.
Yow took a second to realize something amazing: She felt absolutely great. No pain anywhere. No portacath. Her hair was thick, full and brown – and really hers.
There were three red-and-white golf bags and one gold-and-purple one waiting at the tee. She turned to see her three playing partners approaching: her mother, Lib, her former colleague Sue Gunter (you can guess which bag was hers) and …
Valvano _ wearing the loudest, most ridiculous red and black plaid pants Yow ever laid eyes on, just to crack her up _ came bearing a steaming plate.
“Kay,” Valvano said, “this is how you’ll know you’re really in heaven: Taste this pasta!”