The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) has named the late Kay Yow as the winner of the 2009 Jostens-Berenson Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing Yow’s lifelong commitment of service to the game of women’s basketball.
"The Jostens-Berenson Lifetime Achievement Award is the highest honor awarded by the WBCA and this year on behalf of the WBCA and its members, we are proud to present it to Kay Yow," said WBCA CEO Beth Bass. "After knowing her for 32 years the impact Coach Yow has had on the Association and myself is immeasurable. We cannot thank Kay Yow enough for her tireless efforts and service to the game of women’s basketball."
Yow began serving as North Carolina State’s head women’s basketball coach in 1975. On Jan. 24, 2009, after two decades of battling breast cancer, Yow passed away at the age of 66. In 38 years of service to the women’s game, Yow coached over 1,000 games and amassed an astounding 700 career wins.
The N.C. State legend led her teams to 20 NCAA tournaments, 11 trips to the Sweet 16, and one trip to the Elite Eight and the Final Four. She boasted four ACC Tournament titles and in 2007 became the inaugural winner of the Jimmy V ESPY for Perseverance. Yow is also the first coach to win a gold medal twice in Olympic competition as a head coach in 1984 and 1988.
Outside of the RBC Center and Reynolds Coliseum, Yow was known as a founding member and past president of the WBCA. She was inducted into 10 or more Hall of Fames, including the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Hall of Fame.
Soon after she was diagnosed with cancer, Yow dedicated her life to spreading cancer awareness in the sports community and beyond. Through initiatives like N.C. State’s Hoops for Hope and the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund™, Yow was able to gain the support of thousands of friends, coaches, colleagues and fans to rally in fighting the very disease that took her life.
"It is a privilege to recognize and honor Kay Yow’s legacy with the Jostens-Berenson Lifetime Achievement Award," said Nicole Ellos, Jostens Championship Marketing Manager. "We are thankful for her contributions to women’s athletics and know that her story will be an inspiration and motivation to us all for years to come."
The award will be formally presented at the WBCA Awards Luncheon presented by State Farm and Jostens on Tuesday, April 7, at Noon (CT) in the Hyatt Regency St. Louis Riverfront Grand Ballroom. The luncheon is part of the WBCA National Convention, held in conjunction with the 2009 NCAA® Women’s Final Four® in St. Louis, Mo.
The award, sponsored by Jostens, is named in honor of the late Senda Berenson, who in her role as a physical education instructor at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., introduced "basketball" to her female gym students in 1892. This introduction marked the birth of the women’s game, which occurred the year following basketball’s invention
by Dr. James Naismith in Springfield, Mass.
Yow joins a distinguished group of recipients which includes: Cherri Mankenberg (2008); Brenda Byrd (2007); the late Sue Gunter, Louisiana State University (2006); Charles Heatly, Lindsay High School (2005); Louise O’Neal, Wellesley College (2004); Dr. Charlotte West, Southern Illinois University (2003); Dr. Jill Hutchison, Illinois State University (2002); Bob Spencer, Fresno State (2001); the late Dr. Brenda Reilly, Central Connecticut State University (2000); Betty Wiseman, Belmont University (1999); Dr. Rose Marie Battaglia (1998); Lea Plarski, Saint Louis Community College (1997); Carole Baumgarten (1996); Billie Moore, California State - Fullerton (1995); Marcy Weston, Central Michigan University (1994); Patsy Neal (1993); Harley Redin, Wayland Baptist University (1992); Alberta Lee Cox (1991); Bertha Frank Teague (1990); Pat Summitt, University of Tennessee (1989); Hunter Low, Eastman Kodak Company (1988); Cathy Rush, Immaculata College (1987);Mildred Barnes, Central Missouri State University (1986); the late Carol Eckman, Lock Haven University (1985); and the late Margaret Wade, Delta State University (1984).
Minneapolis-based Jostens, founded in 1897, is a leading provider of products, programs and services that help people celebrate important moments, recognize achievements and build affiliations. The company's products include memory books, class rings, graduation products and products for athletic champions and their fans. Through tradition and technology, innovation and partnerships, Jostens continues to create powerful new ways for people to express their pride and mark life's biggest moments.
About the WBCA
Founded in 1981, the WBCA promotes women’s basketball by unifying coaches at all levels to develop a reputable identity for the sport and to foster and promote the development of the game in all of its aspects as a sport for women and girls. For more information about the WBCA, please visit wbca.org.