Stephanie Zonars ’89 Authors Book On Legendary Women’s Basketball Coach
There was a time when Stephanie Zonars ’89 had never thought about writing a book. She even doubted her ability to do so, questioning whether it was the right time in her life to embark on such a challenging professional journey.
However, after getting to know the late Kay Yow, head coach of North Carolina State University’s women’s basketball program for 34 years despite a 22-year battle with cancer, Zonars had a change of heart. She felt compelled to write Leader of the Pack: The Legend of Legendary Coach Kay Yow, a book highlighting the life and career of a courageous women’s athletics pioneer.
Zonars first met Yow in 1993 while traveling with an overseas tour of the Athletes in Action (AIA) women’s basketball team. More than a decade later, Zonars thought Yow should write a book about her life. However, Yow felt she didn’t have the capacity to write a sportsbook while battling stage IV cancer and coaching her team.
“For someone who had been so successful in her sport and was so well-respected, I just couldn’t believe that her life and wisdom hadn’t been documented in book form,” Zonars said.
Five months after their first discussion about the book, Zonars asked Yow if she could help her write a book about her life. After praying about it, Yow said no because the ideas Zonars needed from her would still require time – time that she simply didn’t have.
Zonars didn’t give up. After researching books online and coming across one written about a college lacrosse coach who died of brain cancer, Zonars had a revelation. Like the book about the lacrosse coach, Zonars decided she should write a book that compiled stories about Yow from former Wolfpack players and her impact on their lives.
Zonars approached Yow again. Yow eventually said yes, but under one condition. “She was uncomfortable with a book of stories focused on her and wanted to point people to the God who made her the kind of person and coach that she was,” said Zonars, a member of Wittenberg’s women’s basketball team under Pam Evans-Smith ’82, ironically also a long-time cancer survivor who passed away in 2007. “So, she asked me to take the lesson the player wrote about and tie it into a person, passage or principle from the Bible.”
Each chapter in the book has two parts: Wolfpack History (player story) and Wolfpack Wisdom (a tie to the Bible). Zonars enjoyed an 18-year career with AIA, a sports ministry based in Xenia, Ohio, before taking classes to become a certified life coach. As a life coach, Zonars helps coaches and directors of athletics to develop and maintain high performance teams through team-building workshops. Zonars recently became reacquainted with her alma mater, helping coaches in Wittenberg’s own athletic department.
“Life coaching helps people move from where they are to where they want to be, whether personally or professionally,” said Zonars, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Wittenberg. “It provides them an opportunity to see the big picture, work on issues that surface, develop strategies to move toward their goals and receive encouragement, support and accountability.”