Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thanks, Coach

Conn coach Geno Auriemma sat deeper into his seat during Thursday's media gathering, looking uncharacteristically uncomfortable. For a man who usually has a quick response to anything, Auriemma was caught off guard.

His eyes drifted toward the floor, as to not make eye contact, but there was no hiding the emotions welling up inside.

All this for an opposing coach, a friend.

North Carolina State coach Kay Yow, 66, lost her battle with cancer Saturday.

Auriemma said he knew this most recent leave of absence was a sign of the disease taking a deeper hold of Yow, who twice before fought cancer into remission after her initial diagnosis in 1987. The last came in 2007 and she returned to the Wolfpack's run in the NCAA Tournament, which ended with a loss to the Huskies in Fresno, Calif.

Yow was what was right about sports, humanity.

She fought with a gusto and a determination that you realize if everyone shared those qualities, there is nothing mankind couldn't accomplish. She gave millions -- if not more -- hope, basketball fans or not, with her tireless advocacy toward cancer awareness and fund raising.

A Hall of Fame coach with 700 wins and a gold medal, Yow will be remembered for being both fighter and sheppard.

She is the reason next month college teams across this land will wear pink. Not many people can transcend their sport, yet Yow managed to do so.

Yow's efforts weren't fruitless. If the attention she drew to the cause led to one person to get checked out and catch the disease before it spread, I am sure she'd tell you every ounce of energy was well worth it.

Unfortunately, no matter how much others honor Yow, it simply won't be enough to do her justice.

Thanks, Coach.

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