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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Sandra Kay Yow, June 22, 2005. Interview G-0244. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Introduction to basketball and childhood experiences in Gibsonville, North Carolina

Yow describes her introduction to basketball. Noting that her parents gave her a basketball for her seventh birthday, Yow explains that both of her parents played basketball on mill teams in Gibsonville, North Carolina, while she was growing up in the 1940s and 1950s. She proceeds to describe her family and her childhood experiences in Gibsonville, noting the importance of the community values her parents instilled in her.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Sandra Kay Yow, June 22, 2005. Interview G-0244. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

My first question would be just starting with basketball, what is your first memory of basketball?
SANDRA KAY YOW:
My first memory of basketball is when I was seven years old, and at Christmas I got my very own basketball. A goal was put up in my back yard, and it was to stay there for many, many years. It would actually still be there now, but we are renovating my dad and mom's home place, so we took the goal down. But soon it will be replaced, and we're actually laying a full-size court in our back yard. So that's my first memory, getting that basketball, having a goal put up, and from that moment just starting to really entertain myself for hours just trying to put the basketball in the hoop.
PAMELA GRUNDY:
Now how did a seven year old girl come to get a basketball hoop for a Christmas present?
SANDRA KAY YOW:
Well, I guess my mom and dad both played basketball. My mom played in high school. They both played on mill teams. They both worked in hosiery mills in Burlington, and as a result of their love for basketball and sports it probably didn't hurt them in getting that job because— I have a picture, actually, of my mom somewhere around here in my office on her mill team.
PAMELA GRUNDY:
Okay.
SANDRA KAY YOW:
So they played basketball as they worked. It's sort of like an AAU league. Their love for basketball is the reason that I got my first basketball. However, there was never any pressure for me to actually use it or work at any kind of skills. It was just for fun and something they enjoyed, so I'm sure they thought I might enjoy it as well.
PAMELA GRUNDY:
So you hadn't asked for the basketball or been wanting it?
SANDRA KAY YOW:
No, I don't remember asking for it. I think I was wanting a bicycle, and I also got that and a number of other things. Actually, it was my last Christmas as the only child, so I guess they really flooded me because after that [came] another child, and another, and another. We became a larger family, and I learned how to be a good team member.
PAMELA GRUNDY:
So how many brothers and sisters do you have?
SANDRA KAY YOW:
I have two sisters and one brother.
PAMELA GRUNDY:
And did they all play basketball also?
SANDRA KAY YOW:
They all played basketball. My brother went to Clemson on a football scholarship, but he played on the varsity high school basketball team, and both of my sisters played basketball. And as a matter of fact they retired number fourteen at Gibsonville High School after my youngest sister finished playing there, and that was the number that I had also worn.
PAMELA GRUNDY:
Okay. Okay, so you were well known as the sisters?
SANDRA KAY YOW:
The Yow sisters, I think, from Gibsonville, or known sort of like the Holt brothers who both came and played football here at NC State, and both are professional players. They're from Gibsonville, and I think people around that town know the Holt brothers and the Yow sisters are all in basketball.
PAMELA GRUNDY:
That's really interesting. What was Gibsonville like at the time that you were growing up?
SANDRA KAY YOW:
It's a great small town where the community and the town were completely involved in what was going on at the high school. Very supportive, strong PTA, strong booster's club for athletics. The town came out and supported the students as well as the student athletes at Gibsonville High School. You couldn't hardly go anywhere in Gibsonville or do anything. You'd see that it was truly a village raising the kids because many other adults would tell you what to do and what not to do, and they would also tell your parents. At that time you just didn't question answers. You just answered the questions. And parents were very supportive of people in authority, of coaches and teachers. I always knew I was never going to be right. If the teacher said something or the coach said something, that's the way that it was, and it was up to me to make the adjustment necessary to fit into whatever it was that they were requesting. I might could have had a sound argument on my side, but my parents were just supportive of authority, and I think it helped me greatly.