Monday, January 26, 2009

People will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel

As someone who lost his father to cancer, I was sad that N.C. State coach Kay Yow lost her battle with the disease -- after 23 years. What an amazing fighter.

[Coach Yow is pictured here with the late Jim Valvano.]

Of all the stories I've read since she died, this one by Ron Green Jr. in the Charlotte paper from yesterday really stopped me:


Two years ago, I sat with N.C. State women's basketball coach Kay Yow in her Reynolds Coliseum office and talked to her about living with the cancer that was killing her. Yow had just come from another chemotherapy session and she moved slowly.

In the 45 minutes we talked that January day, Yow told stories about sitting in the late Jim Valvano's office when he worked down the hall and how much she learned from him, most of it about life, not basketball.

Like so many others, I knew of Kay Yow, but I didn't know her. I knew about the games she'd won and what she meant to the sport she coached.

And from talking to her players, past and present, and her friends, I began to understand why they saw her as someone special. Ultimately, it wasn't about the basketball, although that was her method. It was about the way Yow lived and how through her life, she taught others to live.

Her life was a lesson in quiet virtues. She knew how to push players to get the most from them, but she didn't use a hammer. More than one player said their greatest fear was of disappointing Yow.

"People will forget what you said and what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel," [one of her former players] said.

That will be Kay Yow's legacy.