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W. Basketball: Farewell to a friend

farewell
The 2008-09 North Carolina State University women?s basketball team players" coaches and other mourners sing the N.C. State alma mater in remembrance of coach Kay Yow in Reynolds Coliseum Wednesday. Hall-of-fame coach Yow died Saturday after a long fight against cancer.

Blog: Watch a video of the memorial service

It wasn't a typical memorial. But Kay Yow was not a typical basketball coach.

For those in attendance" it felt like there were two services Wednesday: the celebration Yow would have wanted and the time for grief that everyone else needed.

On the court bearing Yow's name the N.C. State pep band blared the school's fight song as loud as ever. There was a moment of silence.

The Wolfpack cheerleaders cheered their hearts out. Almost everyone cried their eyes dry.

Yow's favorite a cappella group Grains of Time sang with inspired voices. Yow's closest friends spoke moving words.

At the end of the day" those who loved Yow the most were able to give their longtime friend the farewell she deserved.

""I feel pretty sure that she's up there today smiling"" Yow's assistant coach Jenny Palmateer said, holding back tears.

Robin Pate, N.C. State's director of basketball operations, knew Palmateer was right.

But he also knew that Yow — the competitor that she was — would be just a bit disappointed in the way the day unfolded.

I know she's dancing and singing in heaven with the angels"" Pate said.

But still wondering why we cut practice short today.""

That's where Yow loved to be — in practice" teaching.

But Yow's leadership extended well beyond the confines of the 94 feet of hardwood. Simply put" she was more than just a basketball coach.

""If that's all you know about her" you didn't know coach Yow Pate said.

If you didn't learn from her" you didn't really know her.""

In Yow's long battle with breast cancer that eventually took her life" there were good days and bad.

But no matter how fatigued she became or how much pain she felt" making her way into Reynolds Coliseum always made any day a little bit better.

""She had a different look on her face when she came in here" N.C. State Director of Athletics Lee Fowler said. When she came up here" she had a glow on her face.""

Yow surely spent a lot of time in Reynolds. Beyond the games ­and practices" Yow was a leader for countless girls at her youth summer basketball camps.

Many of her former campers were in attendance Wednesday.

One of her earliest campers now N.C. State interim head coach Stephanie Glance" reminisced Wednesday of that summer when she first met her inspirational friend and colleague.

""When I was a kid" I used to look up to her and think ‘Wow this is a really cool person"'"" Yow's longtime assistant said.

That feeling never subsided. In fact"" it grew along with Glance.

""I grew up"" and coach Yow was still on a pedestal. And she was even greater than I thought she was when I was 13.""


Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.


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