Shimmy Gray-Miller still vividly remembers the first time she met Kay Yow.
After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1994, Gray-Miller was invited to participate in a scrimmage against Yow’s North Carolina State Wolfpack along with several other former college basketball players.
Before the contest, she and the rest of her teammates sat and listened to Yow — N.C. State’s legendary coach — speak during the pregame meal, leading to several memorable moments that still make Gray-Miller smile.
“(Coach Yow) talked to us and shared with us and prayed for us,” she said. “And then we went out and beat them, and after the game she still prayed for us, which I thought was pretty awesome.”
Now, as an assistant coach at Florida more than two decades later, Gray-Miller has an opportunity to honor and reflect on Yow’s memory along with the rest of her team.
This week, the Gators and dozens of other women’s college basketball programs are participating in the Play4Kay movement, a series of games where teams wear pink uniforms to raise awareness for breast cancer, a disease that took Yow’s life eight years ago.
Florida (13-12, 4-8 SEC) will take part in the event tonight for the second time this week when it takes on Missouri (17-9, 7-5 SEC) in the O’Connell Center at 7 p.m.
Play4Kay was created by the Kay Yow Cancer Fund several years ago and has drawn excitement from players up and down the Gators’ roster.
“I love being a part of bigger things like this,” guard Dyandria Anderson said. “It’s a huge statement, and just being there for everybody who’s going through this and knowing that they’re not in it alone. We’re here to support them.”
Anderson is one of the many members of UF’s program whose family has been affected by cancer. The junior lost her grandmother several years ago to the disease, and she said the opportunity to raise awareness is a “blessing.”
“It’s beyond just one person,” Anderson said. “Families are affected by it day by day. This is just something that I love doing.”
While participating in Play4Kay has players and coaches happy to make a difference, UF’s focus will still be on making sure it notches a victory against the Tigers.
Missouri leads the SEC in three-point shot attempts and ranks second in three-point makes, leading head coach Amanda Butler to focus on defending perimeter shooters in this week’s practice.
“They do that exceptionally well, and they have shooters all over the floor,” Butler said. “They’re truly a great team.”
UF guard Dyandria Anderson dribbles the ball in Florida's 81-62 loss to South Carolina on Jan. 8, 2017, in the O'Connell Center.