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Joan Joyce

Excelled At Other Sports

Joyce's achievements would be remarkable even if they were limited to softball. But she was a sports phenomenon at a time when few opportunities existed for women athletes. She was a star volleyball player at Crosby High School in Waterbury, and later played in amateur leagues and served as an official. As a teenager, she had a 180 bowling average and sought out the best competition she could find. She pursued basketball, another childhood love, at Chapman College, where she was a three-time Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) All-American. She took up golf while teaching at Waterbury Catholic High School after college. She joined the Ladies Professional Golf Tour (LPGA) at the age of 37 after playing in just three amateur tournaments. In almost 20 years of consistently good play on the LPGA tour, her best finish was a sixth place. She also was a teaching pro at Deer Creek Country Club in Florida.

Joyce's multi-sport prowess earned comparisons to an earlier legendary athlete. Former Connecticut Falcons player Kathy Neal remarked to Tom Yantz of The Hartford Courant, "She really was the Babe Didrikson Zaharias of her era."

Asked what made her such a talented all-around athlete, Joyce told Lori Riley of The Hartford Courant, "Probably determination. I was basically a pretty good athlete from when I was real young. I had good teachers. And I worked real hard at what I did."

Joyce has successfully made the transition from player to coach. In 1994, she became the first women's head softball coach at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. She has guided the Lady Owls to a number 10 national ranking, the highest softball ranking in the history of the Atlantic Sun Conference. She has been named the Conference's Coach of the Year five times in eight seasons. She continues to conduct softball clinics. In 1996, Joyce also was named head coach of Florida Atlantic University's women's golf team and the senior women's administrator.

Chronology

1940 Born August 1 in Waterbury, Connecticut
1956 Joins the Raybestos Brakettes
1958 Pitches a no-hitter for the National Fast Pitch Softball Championship
1962 Joins the Orange (California) Lionettes while attending Chapman College
1967 Re-joins the Raybestos Brakettes
1974 Leads the Raybestos Brakettes to a world championship title, the first for a United States team
1975 Retires from the Raybestos Brakettes
1976 Co-founds the International Women's Professional Softball Association, which lasts four seasons
1977 Qualifies for the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA)
1994 Becomes first women's softball coach at Florida Atlantic University
1996 Becomes women's golf coach and senior women's administrator at Florida Atlantic University

Awards and Accomplishments

1957 Selected as an Amateur Softball Association All-American, the first of 18 consecutive years
1974 First woman honored with a Gold Key from the Connecticut Sports Writers Alliance
1975 Named Bill Lee Male Athlete of the Year
1983 Inducted into the National Softball Hall of Fame
1989 Inducted into the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame
1991 Inducted into the Hank O'Donnell Sports Hall of Fame
1995 Named Atlantic Sun Conference Softball Coach of the Year, the first of five times
1995 Named Palm Beach County (Florida) Coach of the Year
1996 Inducted into the Palm Beach County (Florida) Sports Hall of Fame
1997 Inducted into the Waterbury (Connecticut) Hall of Fame
1997 Inducted into the Connecticut Sports Museum Hall of Fame
1998 Inducted into the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame
1999 Inducted into the New England Women's Sports Hall of Fame
1999 Inducted into the International Softball Federation Hall of Fame

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsOther SportsJoan Joyce Biography - An Athletic Family, Softball's Brightest Star For Two Decades, Excelled At Other Sports - SELECTED WRITINGS BY JOYCE: