FAU Softball: Head coach Joan Joyce aims to pass 1,000 career wins entering her 28th season

“[There are] probably only a handful of coaches in the whole NFCA that have won 1,000 games, but this is a big deal,” Joyce said.


Ryan Murphy

University Press Stock Image of softball head coach Joan Joyce.

Gianna Alberti, Staff Writer

Joan Joyce is entering her 28th season as head coach of FAU’s softball team. 15 wins away from her 1,000th career win, the Waterbury, Conn. native is excited about the upcoming season.

The 81-year-old is a well-known legend around the FAU campus, but also in the softball world. She was inducted into the National Softball Hall of Fame in 1983 and the International Softball Federation Hall of Fame in 1999.

Joan Joyce played softball, golf, volleyball, basketball, and bowling in her youth.

Joyce competed on the LPGA Tour from 1977 until 1994. Her best finishes included sixth-place in the Corning Classic of 1981, set the record for the lowest number of putts in a round for both the LPGA and PGA Tours in 1982, and finished in sixth in the S&H Golf Classic of 1984 tournaments. She still holds the record in the Guinness Book of World Records for the lowest number of putts, 17, in a single round.

Before coaching in the United States Volleyball Association with the Connecticut Clippers, Joyce competed in four national tournaments and was named to the All-East Regional team.

Throughout her basketball career, she played on the USA Women’s National Team from 1964 to 1965. She was a four-time All-American in the now-defunct Women’s Basketball Association (WBA)  and a three-time Amateur Athletic Union All-American player.

“[I] played basketball, scored 67 points in a game of basketball in the AAU national tournament,” said Joyce.

She played for the Raybestos Brakettes, a softball team based in Stratford, Conn. from 1954 to 1963 and 1967 to 1975. Throughout her career, she accumulated multiple records, which have yet to be broken. While she had a batting average of .467 in 1971, she was a standout pitcher, having pitched 150 no-hitters and 50 perfect games throughout her career.

Her 1974 Brakettes team was the first American team to win the world championship.

“The biggest accomplishment was winning our first International Championship. The third year, we won the bid to go to the championship and we won it for the first time, the US. That was probably the greatest achievement,” Joyce said.

Joyce went to watch the teams competing the night before the championship to see who she would face.

“I knew I was going to be the one to pitch in the game and I thought this Australian team can really hit. They run-ruled everybody else they played in the tournament,” Joyce said.

She watched them beat Japan to earn a spot in the championship game.

“I struck out twenty, walked one, and we picked her off. We beat them. That was a real highlight,” Joyce said. “However, the thing that made me most famous, being a softball pitcher, was striking out Ted Williams and he never hit a fair ball.”

Heading into this season, Joyce can reach another milestone that not many coaches have accomplished. 

The National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) is an organization filled with softball coaches at all levels.

“[There are] probably only a handful of coaches in the whole NFCA that have won 1,000 games, but this is a big deal. At this time, with the softball that’s being played, it is a big deal,” Joyce said.

Senior infielder Myah Murray and junior outfielder Sara Berthiaume expressed the team’s excitement to be playing for a legend like Joyce and to get her 1000th career win.

“There’s not a lot of coaches in the NCAA world that are able to make that milestone, 1000 wins, so for us to be able to get her there would be massive,” Murray said. “That plays a big role in the girls that were here before us, but to be able to get her to that goal, is something we are all looking forward to.”

 There are a lot of things the girls take away from playing for Joan.

“I love playing under coach Joyce and just having conversations and the jokes that I have, the laughs, and all the serious times, but the fun times. It’s a great mix of everything. I love it. Every conversation, you learn something new each time,” Berthiaume said.

Every time they have stepped on the field, the goal is to win and get Joyce her 1,000th win.

“Probably one of the best feelings ever. I think just to be a part of something like that is incredible, but to do it at our home field would be more meaningful to Joan and to the whole program,” Murray said. “To be able to be a part of it and to do it at home would be a very special moment.”

Associate head coach Chan Walker has been with Joyce since the first win.

“I am happy to be a part of her first win and make it to the 1,000th,” Walker said.

Gianna Alberti is a contributing writer at the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email her at [email protected].