Hoops4Hope Is All About Yow

Hoops 4  Hope
The Wolfpack women proudly unveil the total of $91,232.72 raised through the 4th annual Hoops 4 Hope game.

Kay Yow would have cringed at the last words spoken by NC State director of basketball operations Robin Pate just prior to tipoff a the fourth-annual Hoops4Hope basketball game: “It’s about Kay Yow.”

The long-time Wolfpack women’s basketball coach, humble from the day she was born until she died on Jan. 24, never wanted anything to be about her. It was always about her team, or her players, or her staff, or the many people who supported her program and women’s college basketball.

But it somehow seemed okay that the late coach’s name was on the lips of every person crammed into sold-out Reynolds Coliseum Sunday afternoon to see the Wolfpack upset No. 17 Virginia, 60-54, in the annual cancer awareness fundraiser.

She was certainly in the minds of the nearly 250 survivors who marched onto Kay Yow Court during halftime of the game, an uplifting tradition that the coach insisted be part of the annual event.

National Anthem
The N.C. State Women’s Basketball Coaches stand for the National Anthem before the game.

That’s the only way she wanted to be a banner-bearer for this cause: if it could be used to inspire and uplift others.

“She always talked about how many people were battling this disease and how many people were battling other tragedies in their lives,” said interim coach Stephanie Glance after the game. “She was willing to carry the banner only if it helped others.”

Based on the more than $341,000 that was donated Sunday to the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund Sunday, help is certainly on the way.

This is the first year that all funds raised from the event have gone to the charity that bears Yow’s name, which was started just 15 months ago as an off-shoot of the V Foundation for Cancer Research. The first three years, all money went to the Triangle chapter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which raises money for breast cancer awareness and research.

Fans show their support for the legacy of Kay Yow & the mission to find a cure for breast cancer.
Hoops 4 Hope
Fans & Mrs. Wuf join the crowd in wearing pink.

A total of $91,232.72 was raised in association with Sunday’s game, from the silent auction that raised some $28,000, to the $10,000 donation made by Coca-Cola and CVS Pharmacy, to the $10,000 raised by two local schools that held their own Hoops4Hope events earlier this winter.

GlaxoSmithKline, a pharmaceutical company based in the Research Triangle Park, presented a check to fund for $200,000, while New Jersey cancer diagnostics company Veridex LLC delivered an additional $50,000.

In all, more than 11 times more money was donated to Yow’s namesake charity than was raised at the inaugural Hoops4Hope event just four years ago.

The key, Glance said, is for the first Hoops4Hope without Yow to be a starting point, not a peak, that it can continue to grow from here, both locally and nationally.

Breast cancer survivors take the floor for a half-time ceremony.

“There are ‘pink’ events being held all over the country, at NCAA Division I, II and III schools, NAIA schools, junior colleges, high schools and middle schools,” Glance said. “It’s all across the country. Coach Yow’s vision was to give coaches, players, fans and communities a way they could give back to other people through the sport of women’s college basketball.

“She was fired up about it. This is a way we can all make a difference across the country. We can help so many other people. That’s exactly what she would have wanted.”

Connie Rogers-Newcome, a former Wolfpack player and a member of the board of directors for the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund, was delighted at the day-long celebration of her former coach and friend.

The overall donation – one of the largest in the brief history of the charity — will go a long way to boosting the fund as it presents its first research grant later this year at the NCAA Women’s Final Four in St. Louis.

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But, as much as anything, the event was a much-needed emotional release for the former players, managers and staff members who gathered for a weekend of reminiscing about their former coach. Saturday night, more than 100 of them gathered at Vaughn Towers at Carter-Finley Stadium for a traditional reunion dinner.

“We decided that we have swished our feet in our puddle of self-pity for long enough,” Rogers-Newcome said. “Now it’s time to get up and move forward. That’s what Coach Yow taught us to do, and what we need to do now.

“This event is just a celebration of everything she taught us.”

So, in truth, the event wasn’t about Kay Yow. But it was about the things she inspired others to do.

Thanks to NC State’s Tim Peeler for this capcom story & Karl DeBlaker for these capcom photos.


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