Kay Yow’s legacy extends beyond the basketball court, a place where she won more than 700 games in her Hall of Fame career, leading the Wolfpack women’s basketball team to 20 NCAA Tournament appearances and a final four appearance in 1998.
During her 34 seasons with NC State, Yow collected wolves of varying shapes and sizes – some of them were hers, but many of them were gifts from former players. Alongside practice schedules contained in old notebooks, pictures of Yow, and a women’s U.S. Olympic basketball jersey, part of her wolf collection – which totals around 75 wolves altogether – is housed as an exhibit on the ground floor of the Park Alumni Center.
The Kay Yow Wolf Exhibit, donated by the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, serves as a memento of a woman who, before losing her life to breast cancer in 2009, was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000. At the time, she was one of only five female coaches to receive the honor.
The exhibit debuted during the week of homecoming and will remain in the Alumni Center through the end of December. “We felt like it was a great opportunity for people to see the wolves,” says Susan Donohoe, executive director of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. “We thought it would be neat for students and alumni to come see the display.”
Donohoe hopes that those who view the exhibit are reminded of how much Yow loved NC State, and how much NC State loved her. “She loved her school, and she just cared about people,” says Donohoe. “I think that’s what endeared her to NC State and the NC State community.”
Yow started the Kay Yow Cancer Fund in 2007. Yow’s mission, according to Donohoe, was in three parts: raise funds and support women’s cancer research, assist the underserved, and unify people for a common cause.
So far the fund has met all three goals, raising nearly $4 million for cancer projects, providing mobile mammography units for underserved women, and supporting “Play 4Kay” games, in which teams from across the country come together to highlight the cancer fund.
“She (Yow) put the fund together for a very specific purpose,” says Donohoe. “Every day we look at ways to enhance our fundraising efforts so that we’re carrying out what Coach Yow wanted.”
Yow’s influence continues to be felt by many. The wolf exhibit is a reminder of just how many people Yow touched, both on and off the basketball court. “Coach Yow had one of the most giving hearts I’ve ever seen,” says Donohoe. “She may have been the only coach in the United States who didn’t have any enemies.”