WPI visits Springfield at Blake Arena, where the theme is breast cancer awareness. (Ryan Matlack/The Student)
Kay Yow, the legendary women’s basketball coach from North Carolina State, won over 700 games and an Olympic Gold Medal in her incredible career that lasted almost four decades.
She, like NC State’s legendary men’s basketball coach Jim Valvano, suffered a battle with cancer. Unfortunately, Yow lost her battle with breast cancer back in 2009.
The two Wolf Pack coaches leave a legacy that stretches longer than the 94-feet courts they spent so much time coaching on.
Yow’s legacy lives on through all the work she had done to raise breast cancer awareness, and Saturday afternoon, the Springfield College men’s and women’s basketball teams honored Yow, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame back in 2000, by participating in “Play 4Kay Day.”
The “Play 4Kay Day” was created by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
“I think just raising the awareness of cancer is important to them, and it’s hitting more and more people all the time,” said Director of Athletics Cathie Schweitzer. “It’s important and it really becomes a no-brainer. It’s who we are as an institution.”
At SC, like most places in the country, cancer hits close to home.
“I think it hits home for me because I had breast cancer a few years ago and coach (Naomi) Graves went through a lot of treatment,” said Schweitzer. “I think it really hits home personally for coach Graves and me.”
“There are a number of student-athletes whose mother or father had cancer, so it’s something that we try to really have everyone on board for,” added Schweitzer.
Even though Springfield College is founded on the philosophy of Humanics, the idea to have these sort of events doesn’t always come from the administrators.
“The kids that are a part of these programs are the ones that bring this to us as administrators and coaches, saying, ‘this is something we want to do,’ and it really speaks to the type of students that attend Springfield College,” said Schweitzer.
As an administrator and a cancer survivor, Schweitzer admits she gets chills hearing student-athletes discuss what they will wear and what they will do during special events like Saturday.
But Saturday is not the only time when Springfield helps raise awareness for cancer.
“It becomes almost a nine-month thing for us because every sport does it,” said Schweitzer.
All SC sports will wear pink in honor of breast cancer awareness or devote one game to another special cause, examples of why Springfield College was honored last week with a Jostens/NADIIIAA Community Service “Award of Merit.”
Saturday afternoon, student-athletes wore pink socks, shoelaces and shirts to honor the occasion, and it just so happened that both games were critical to the NEWMAC standings.
The women’s basketball team began the double-header with a big game against WPI. The Pride were upset by the Engineers 63-50. The Pride, still in fifth-place in the conference standings, are only two games out of fourth-place.
The second game may have been the most anticipated game of the men’s basketball season. The two top teams in the NEWMAC clashed for 40 minutes and the game came down to the wire, but MIT was able to escape Blake Arena with a narrow 69-67 win.
The losses weren’t what Springfield would have hoped for, but the underlying victory was the fact that both programs contributed something much larger than the games they played.
Terrence Payne may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org