FAU Softball: Honoring former head coach Joan Joyce

Joyce left many landmarks in the sports world, most notably her 1000th win just days before her death.


Joan Joyce at the softball stadium. Photo courtesy of FAU Athletics.

Bryce Totz, Sports Editor

Joan Joyce died last month just eight days after earning her 1000th win. Many people involved in athletics and across the country were quick to share their condolences for Joyce’s friends and family.

According to interim head coach Chan Walker, Joyce stopped talking on Friday, March 25 in her home before dying the next day.

Memories of Joyce off the field

Walker has been with the program for all 28 seasons and considered Joyce to be a mother figure.

“I was her child,” Walker said. “She didn’t have any kids, I was her daughter.”

Throughout Joyce’s career, she piled up multiple trophies and awards, but Walker said that nothing was displayed in the house to show it.

“You would never know that you were living in the house of a legend, no trophies were hanging up, nothing,” Walker said. “She actually has her rings and stuff stored away in a jewelry box.” 

According to Walker, Joyce loved Las Vegas, Nev., and most likely would have moved there if she could have. 

“As long as you didn’t bother her when she was at the casino, she was good,” Walker said. “That was her second favorite place besides being home.”

Walker also reminisced on the first time she met Joyce. Joyce was recruiting players for the new softball team at FAU when she first called Walker.

“She was calling to recruit me and I was playing a Madden football game against my brother on the old Nintendo,” Walker said. “I was finally winning and then she called me and I didn’t have time to talk to her.”

Walker added that Joyce was a good storyteller.

“[Joyce] made you know somebody that you didn’t know,” Walker said. “So, I didn’t know Evan and she just started telling you a story about Evan and you are like, ‘Who the heck is Evan?’, but everybody by the end of the story is like, ‘Oh yeah, I know Evan.’”

Senior infielder Maya Amm expressed her remorse as well and said they were family.

“[Joyce] welcomed me like family and personally, I have never met anyone that had a love for the game that she did,” Amm said. “She saw something in me and she always believed in me and we would always talk all the time since I committed. When I came to FAU, her and all the coaching staff welcomed me with open arms.”

Amm compared Joyce to a grandmother-like figure, saying Joyce always made sure she was successful on the field and in the classroom.

“She meant a lot to me, she was like my grandma but not really,” Amm said. “I’ve been blessed to have her as my coach and mentor in life and that’s probably what I cherish the most out of all of it.”

When Amm first met Joyce, she didn’t know how many awards and milestones Joyce had reached.

“It was pretty vivid because I didn’t know how popular she was in the women’s sports world,” Amm said. “I actually didn’t know of FAU until I started getting letters in eighth grade and as I got to know [Joyce], she always kept telling all of these crazy stories.”

Sophomore infielder Jalynn Ford also talked about memories she had with Joyce.

“Coach Joyce was honestly like my angel sent from heaven because when I met her when I first committed, I met her when I was pretty young and I had some family losses to the same circumstances that I am going through now with Coach Joyce,” Ford said. “She was always my family.”

Ford also said that she didn’t really know about Joyce or FAU when she first heard about the school’s softball program. After talking with her grandfather though, she realized how intimidating Joyce could be.

“I talked to my grandpa about the coaching staff and stuff and he knew about [Joyce] through golf and just every other amazing thing that she was good at,” Ford said. “At first he was like, ‘yeah she’s this awesome athlete, she’s very intimidating.’”

Memories of Joyce on the field

Walker said that Joyce’s memory stayed intact until the day she died.

“[Joyce] could tell you about a game from the very first pitch to the very last pitch of a game because she just never forgot games,” Walker said. “She remembered every single story…she could remember every recruit.”

Amm said that Joyce was dedicated to the job every day, and constantly wanted to help the team improve.

“At practice, [Joyce] used to stay after,” Amm said. “I’d get buckets of balls and stay and she’ll sit there and watch and tell me, ‘good job.’”

Amm added that Joyce was a tough coach, and strived to make her the best player she could be.

“[Joyce] would always push me through her words. She knew she could be tough with me personally and she knew I could handle it,” Amm said.

On the field, Ford said Joyce was tougher but still acted as a guardian angel.

“She’s definitely still my guardian angel, but she had a little bit of swag and drive that would contradict every question that you asked,” Ford said. “She expected the most all the time and if you ever gave her an answer, she rebutted it very quickly with her knowledge because she’s very knowledgeable.”

Despite her toughness as a coach, Joyce knew how to help players have good moments too.

“For those little victories that you need really bad when you’re in a slump, or you don’t know how to react on the field, she was the first one to jump up and tell you, ‘good job, but then what to do after that to make it even better,” Ford said.

Twitter users express remorse

Many people across the country were quick to share their remorse for Joyce, along with memories they had of her.

University of California at Los Angeles softball head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez tweeted about how she feels.

University of Michigan softball head coach Carol Hutchins said that she was “honored to have [Joyce] as a friend, and a colleague.” 

Liberty University head coach Dot Richardson posted a video on Twitter to pay tribute to Joyce. Richardson said she was 12-years-old when she first saw Joyce pitch with the Raybestos Brakettes.

University of North Carolina head coach Donna J. Pappa is from Waterbury, Conn., the same hometown as Joyce, and said that “her impact on women’s sports will live on.”

FAU has also set up a website where people can share their remorse and memories of Joyce via Kudoboard.

Although both of Joyce’s parents are deceased and she had no children, she is survived by her brother Joseph Joyce, her sister Janice Joyce, and their families. 

Bryce Totz is the Sports Editor at the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email him at [email protected], or tweet him @brycetotz.