In 1975, first-year head coach Kay Yow allowed a campus ministry representative the opportunity to share the gospel with the North Carolina State women’s basketball team. Yow was the only individual to accept Christ that day, and the decision radically altered her life’s course. She later co-founded and co-sponsored NC State’s FCA Huddle and became a popular speaker for civic groups, community events, church services, and FCA activities. Yow also served on the FCA Board of Trustees.
Yow’s early athletic career included All-Conference honors while playing basketball at Gibsonville (NC) High School. After graduating from East Carolina University, where there was no women’s basketball program at the time, she worked as an English teacher, librarian and basketball coach at Allen Jay High School in High Point. During the summer months, Yow played on a nationally ranked American Softball Association (ASA) team and earned All-American honors.
Yow spent four years at Elon College as women’s athletics coordinator, professor and three-sport coach before taking the job as NC State’s first full-time women’s basketball coach. In 34 seasons, Yow led NC State to five Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) regular season titles, four ACC tournament titles, 20 NCAA appearances (including the 1998 Final Four), and two National Invitational Tournament (NIT) appearances. For her career, Yow tallied 737 victories and, at the time of her death in 2009, was the fifth winningest active coach in Division I women’s basketball history.
A vocal proponent of Title IX, which gave greater access to female athletes at the high school and collegiate levels, Yow had a 10-year working relationship with USA Basketball. As the head coach, she led the women’s team to the gold medal at the1988 Seoul Olympics, and gold medals at the 1986 FIBA World Championships, and the 1986 Goodwill Games, as well as a silver medal at the 1981 World University Games. She was an assistant coach for gold medal winning teams at the 1979 World University Games, the 1983 Pan American Games, the 1984 Williams Jones Cup, and the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.