When N.C. State’s women’s basketball team boards the bus to North Carolina’s Smith Center this morning, the staff will keep the front seat to the right of the driver empty for coach Kay Yow.
Yow, who is in her 34th season at State, announced on Tuesday she was taking a leave of absence for the remainder of the season to address health issues related to stage-four breast cancer. In her absence, associate head coach Stephanie Glance will serve as interim coach.
No one, however, will sit in Yow’s seat.
“I’m not sitting in it,” Glance said.
Even so, Glance must step into the leadership role for State, which opens its ACC schedule today against the No. 2-ranked Tar Heels (15-0).
It’s a role she’s been placed in before. Most recently, during the Wolfpack’s past four games, Glance has taken over head coaching duties for Yow. During the 2006-07 season, she stepped in as interim coach as Yow missed 16 games, taking a leave of absence for health reasons.
Glance guided the team to a 10-6 record during that stretch, and later helped Yow, who returned in January of that season, lead the Pack to an NCAA Tournament run into the round of 16.
Glance, in her 15th season with State, is clearly aware of how her role changes with the move just “three inches” over on the bench. The Pack finished its non-conference schedule with an 8-7 record and enters the toughest part of its season while forced to deal with a difficult, challenging time.
“I’m very much aware of the task at hand,” said Glance, a Clyde native who was a Kay Yow camper as a girl and has studied at the arm of her mentor as a professional.
As associate head coach, she’s been responsible for the daily operation of the team, as well as being the program’s recruiting coordinator.
She has organized practices, prepared game plans and monitored player’s academic eligibility.
“The last time, coach Glance probably put a lot of pressure on herself to do everything coach Yow would want us to,” State assistant coach Jenny Palmateer said. “She felt personally responsible for that. I think she realizes that she didn’t have to try so hard because she is doing that like that.”
Glance said she’s taking great steps to keep things normal in the day-to-day operation of the team. She met with the staff on Friday to discuss recruiting and practice schedules. Then there was planning for today’s game against the Heels, a team that averages 87.7 points per game.
There have been few moments for Glance to stop and contemplate deeply about the whirlwind changes since Yow first missed a game on Dec. 22. She’s turned to her mother, Becky, to talk as she’s always done. Her mom has spent time in Raleigh since April after the death of her husband, George Oliver Glance.
This week Glance also remembered 2006-07 and how prepared she felt and her daily discussions with Yow about life and basketball.
“I realized what she had been teaching me,” Glance said.
At their core, she said, they have the same values, even if her boisterous and outgoing personality differs from Yow’s reserved demeanor.
“She’s a very intense coach,” State senior Shayla Fields said of Glance.
On Wednesday, Glance moved about practice on Kay Yow Court at Reynolds Coliseum with a swift pace and hard glare. With the Pack working on half-court sets, she stopped play several times and voiced her concerns.
She was following Yow’s advice “to coach your personality.”
“You have to be yourself,” Glance said. “There’s only one Kay Yow.”
She added: “They know I have a different personality, and hopefully they’ll see the influence coach Yow has had in my life.”
State sophomore Tia Bell said she doesn’t expect the practice atmosphere to change. “I see a lot of similarities ... [in] coaching styles,” she said.
North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell, in her 34th season, has coached against both Yow and Glance. From assessing film, she said they have unique styles when it comes to in-game decision-making.
She said Glance runs certain plays at different times than Yow and has different substitution tendencies. She expects Glance’s choices today to come partly from her own play book.
“No one would object to that,” Hatchell said. “She can’t think, ‘What would Kay do here, but what would I do from my experience.’ Kay’s trained her well; she knows what to do.”
Hatchell, who has watched Glance’s progression and observed her work for women’s basketball through national organizations such as the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, offered her thoughts about the future.
“If they don’t offer [Glance] the opportunity if Kay decides that it’s time, that would be a great mistake,” Hatchell said, “because she, without a doubt, deserves it.”
Yow has said she will revisit the decision to return to coaching at the end of the season.
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