North Carolina State basketball players pay tribute to their coach


In January, when North Carolina State’s Kay Yow died of breast cancer, StuntDouble wrote a wonderful tribute to the beloved coach. Stunt’s memories reflect those of all who met Yow — she changed lives wherever she went.

Now many of the people Yow touched are finding ways to honor her. One of the most moving comes via Mechelle Voepel’s blog.

Ivy Gardner was a junior guard when she chose to give up basketball for personal reasons. Coach Yow believed in Gardner when others didn’t, so the decision was not an easy one. And N.C. State certainly needed Gardner to stay.

Yet, Yow supported Gardner’s choice because the coach believed that a young woman’s future was about more than basketball. And Yow continued to support Gardner for years afterward via phone calls and visits and genuine caring. So, at Yow’s funeral service, when Gardner saw a tattoo that former N.C. State star Umeki Webb had gotten in honor of the coach, Gardner came up with a design of her own.

The design incorporates a pink breast-cancer-awareness ribbon with Yow’s name and her favorite Bible verse, Philippians 4:13, in a replication of Yow’s own handwriting. The name, “Kay Phi Yow” comes from a joke among N.C. State players that Yow’s name sounded like a sorority. A member of the team, Lori Phillips, added “phi” to make the sisterhood name “official.” Read the whole story here.

I know some people just aren’t the tattoo type, but something about this story really got to me. Maybe it’s the fact that a coach could touch players so deeply. Maybe it’s the fact that young women are willing to make such a public and permanent statement of affection for a teacher and mentor. Or maybe it’s just that I am hoping that the next generation of women will have no reason to have a pink ribbon tattoo, because breast cancer will no longer be a killer.

In any case, the story got me to thinking about the people who have changed my life. I invite you to think about who has changed yours. Who in your life is worth remembering every day? Tell us. Then take a few minutes this weekend and tell them. It’s a lot easier than getting a tattoo anyway.

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