|ISU shines with ‘Play 4Kay’ game|
|Written by Tawni Ricketts, Daily Vidette Sports Columnist|
|Tuesday, 14 February 2012 13:45|
The moment Doug Collins Court came into my view after entering Redbird Arena on Sunday, chills flooded my body. I stood, staring into a sea of pink.
No, these people weren’t celebrating Valentine’s Day, but rather celebrating those who have won their battle with cancer, supporting those who are currently fighting, and remembering and honoring those who had lost their battle. This was “Play 4Kay.”
The Play 4Kay campaign is a part of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund — an organization committed to aiding the fight against women’s cancers. The organization is named after and in honor of coach Kay Yow — most widely recognized for her time as North Carolina State head women’s basketball coach, the 1988 United States Olympic Gold medal team coach, and a women’s basketball Hall of Famer.
Among the many colleges and universities that participate in Play 4Kay during the month of February, I believe that the ISU event is amid the most special, as members of the team, the ISU community, and the surrounding Bloomington–Normal communities are able to know Coach Yow through head coach Stephanie Glance’s eyes.
Glance served as Coach Yow’s assistant coach at NC State for 15 years, as well as the interim head coach as Coach Yow battled through breast cancer from 2004 through 2009. As such, Coach Glance developed an extremely close relationship with Coach Yow — experiencing first-hand her life lessons, coaching techniques, and inspirational ways of living out life.
Glance wrote a short memoir regarding Coach Yow and the life she lived that was available in a special program at the Play 4Kay game on Sunday. In it, Glance states the following:
“For those of us who were blessed to be in Coach Yow’s classroom, either as a player or a staff member, we will forever draw from that well of wisdom. She was a person with great humility, grace, courage, strength, passion, and vision. She saw people for who they could become … she lived out her faith through her love for people and willingness to give of herself.”
I believe the insight and first-hand experience of the positive life that Coach Yow led, as witnessed by Coach Glance, can be seen not only in the success and endearment of the ISU Play 4Kay game, but in the women’s basketball team as well, and thus the ISU community.
It is obvious that Coach Glance incorporates lessons and lifestyle aspects that she learned from Coach Yow into her own coaching. Just last December, the ISU women’s basketball team volunteered at Home Sweet Home Ministries homeless shelter, doing things like serving food and making sack lunches. From what I’ve learned about Coach Yow over the past couple of weeks, that is something she would surely be proud of.
While Coach Glance, who modeled pink from her jacket to her shoes on Sunday, had everything to do with the success of the Play 4Kay game, the players and crowd played a special role too.
The players sported pink uniforms, shoes, socks, and headbands, and left it all on the court in support of the fight against cancer. As junior guard Candace Sykes put it, “[Play4Kay didn’t add] pressure. It [was] actually a relief to know that you’re going out there and doing something for somebody else. We wanted to play hard for them.”
One of the most beautiful things about the Play 4Kay turnout was the fact that people attended the game for reasons that extended beyond basketball.
Attendees showed their support by wearing pink, displaying banners and signs, and taking turns walking or running on a treadmill. One man even rode a stationary bike throughout the whole game…that’s over two hours!
At halftime, cancer survivors and those currently at battle stood across the length of the court, with Rascal Flatts’ “I Won’t Let Go” playing over the loud speaker. The crowd gave a standing ovation, people were crying, and love, respect, support, and courage was felt by all.
College athletics are a huge part of many people’s lives, thus a great way to reach out, fundraise, and show support of something as powerful and influential as the fight against cancer.
The women’s basketball team, Coach Glance, the ISU athletic department, and the ISU administration took full advantage of that concept and put on a great, awe-inspiring event that touched hundreds of lives on Sunday. It is an honor to be a part of a college community who contributes to the greater good.