The Wolfpacker

November-December 2023

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 46 of 51

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2023 ■ 47 for women," Doak said shortly after he took over what had been a club team with an aggressive schedule. "It seems like just a natural thing. I can see noth- ing that would bar it. "I'd like to see us play all women's sports within the ACC, just as the men do." That happened pretty quickly, with the arrival in 1975 from Elon College of pioneering head coach Kay Yow, who then spent 35 years establishing the Wolfpack Women as one of the top pro- grams in the ACC and women's college basketball. She was eventually elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for her many contributions to the sport she loved but had no place to play during her days as a student at East Carolina. Doak, 59 at the time, was the kind of experienced coach with a calm de- meanor that athletics director Willis Casey wanted to lead the school's first varsity program for women. A football and baseball player during his days as an NC State student, Doak coached football, basketball and base- ball on both the high school and col- legiate levels in the years immediately after World War II, but he gave it up to go into private business in 1951. His biggest success was coaching all three sports at Presbyterian Junior Col- lege. He also coached at UNC-Chapel Hill, Guilford and Guilford High School. In 1969, Doak became the business manager of the American Basketball Association's Carolina Cougars, the professional team that traveled between Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh dur- ing its five years of existence. When that team went defunct, he needed something else to do, and Casey wanted someone to establish a winning tradition. "I want to convince everyone that we're trying to have a first-class wom- en's athletic program," said Casey, whose decorated career as a coach be- gan with leading a girls swimming team. "And we're going to try to win." That happened immediately, thanks to a handful of club team veterans like senior Genie Jordan (now Ussery) and sophomores Donna Andrews and Lulu Eure. After finishing the regular sea- son with an 8-4 record, they beat Duke, Campbell and Catawba in consecutive games to win the North Carolina AIAW Class B Tournament in Wilmington for a final 11-4 final mark. "This was in an era when not a lot of high schools had girls basketball, so there weren't a lot of players to re- cruit," Hawkins said. "It was such a sweet time, though. Our players came together, Peanut coached them, and we had a great season." Maybe it could have been better. The older coach, with Quaker roots and a long history of coaching only men, re- fused to push his players too hard. "I don't know that he had ever coached girls before," Ussery said. "The high school coach I played for at Mont- gomery County High School was re- ally tough. She coached us hard. Peanut didn't really do that. For me, we could have been better. "I just don't know if he felt comfort- able doing that at that point in time. We were just so grateful to be able to play, to have uniforms, to play some games in Reynolds Coliseum before the men played. They were really fun days." What has followed since then, un- der the guidance of three coaches in 48 years, has been nothing less than re- markable. A History of Success Yow, Kellie Harper and Wes Moore built on the dream first enunciated by Doak and Casey: a first-class program in a first-class department. From her first season, Yow's career took on legendary proportions. She won four regular-season titles and five ACC Tournament championships, made 20 NCAA Tournament appearances, took 15 trips to the Sweet 16 and advanced to the Final Four in 1998. She was not only elected to just about every Hall of Fame she was eligible for, she was a positive force of energy for her inspirational story of leading the 1988 U.S. Olympic Team to the gold medal in Seoul, less than a year after her first bout with breast cancer. Her diagnosis never derailed her ca- reer; she coached All-Americans, ACC Players of the Year, high-performing athletes on par with any program in Kellie Harper, shown here conferring with guard Marissa Kastanek, succeeded Kay Yow as head coach in 2009 but spent only four seasons in Raleigh, compiling a 70-64 record. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE ATHLETICS

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