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Guest Angler III: "Life Coach"

A coach is not necessarily someone shouting along the sidelines during a game or drawing up plays in the locker room during halftime, but someone who motivates and encourages others positively. Our parents are coaches. Our siblings are coaches. And our friends are coaches. Each coach instills confidence that helps us gain perspective and appreciation for our own characteristics and talents. We learn from these coaches, some impacting our lives more than others, and pass their knowledge on to others.

I am a daughter, sister and friend who has also had the opportunity to coach in the public setting for over 40 years. In these years as a basketball coach I have been both a teacher and student to some of our nation’s greatest athletes and coaches.

Parts of life, like some basketball seasons, are not always the easiest and pose challenges that test our determination, strength and character. It is during these tests that coaches truly see the effects of their mentoring, see where an emphasis might shift or where extra drills are needed. Sometimes, however, life can throw something unexpected in the mix that, no matter how much or how hard you practice, you’re never prepared for. My personal example is battling breast cancer.

After my initial diagnosis in 1987 and experiencing two recurrences of the disease, I have decided that now is the best time to step up as a coach, not only for my North Carolina State Wolfpack family, but for everyone dealing directly or indirectly with breast cancer. I normally shun the spotlight, but I don’t mind being the platform for bringing coaches together to raise money for cancer research.

In late 2007, in partnership with the V Foundation for Cancer Research, the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund was launched to raise awareness and funding for research of cancers that affect women. I had the opportunity to work with the ultimate optimist, the late Jim Valvano, for 10 years at NC State and his phrase, “don’t give up, don’t ever give up” has become an immortal slogan both on and off the basketball court.

The fight against cancer looks past all rivalries and the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund has provided coaches of all levels the opportunity to come together through different projects to raise money for cancer research that can make a difference for everyone. When you see pink jerseys, pink shoelaces, pink anything on the court February 13-22, 2009, the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund is behind it creating not only awareness but raising money for cancer research. The battle is tough but we are all on the same team persevering and on a mission to find answers.

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