Florida Atlantic University’s longtime softball coach Joan Joyce has died.
Joyce, who was 81, had just celebrated her 1,000th win as a head coach with the Owls’ 1-0 victory against North Texas on March 18.
The FAU athletic department announced the news of her death on Sunday.
Joyce, who was in her 28th season of coaching, is only the 27th NCAA Division I coach to reach 1,000 wins and 43rd in any sport.
She also coached the FAU’s women’s golf team from 1996 to 2014 and was a member of the LPGA Tour for 19 years (1977-95).
“This is a terribly sad loss for the FAU family. Joan was a true sports legend, and we are grateful for the 28 years she spent here, modeling the best in personal and professional behavior for our student-athletes,” FAU President John Kelly said in a statement. “Joan’s legacy will live on at the university and across the country through the generations of young women she inspired to play – and excel at – softball and golf.”
Beyond coaching, Joyce is considered among the greatest pitchers in softball. She is a member of 20 Halls of Fame and put up legendary statistics for the Raybestos Brakettes of the Amateur Softball Association including 150 no-hitters and 50 perfect games. She also was a 15-time All-American and a member of four World Series teams.
“We are very saddened to learn of Coach Joyce’s passing,” FAU Vice President and Director of Athletics Brian White said. “Joan was one of the pillars that FAU Athletics was built upon. She was a legend in many ways and leaves a legacy at FAU and beyond that is unmatched. We are forever grateful for her nearly three decades of service to FAU and her student-athletes.”
Striking out two Baseball Hall of Fame members was another on the laundry list of accomplishments. Neither Ted Williams or Hank Aaron could handle her heat. In front of 17,000 people, a 20-year old Joyce struck out Williams, the last MLB player to hit over .400 for the season. Joyce once noted he slammed his bat down in frustration.
Joyce is in the Guinness Book of World Records. She is listed as the all-time record holder in golf for “fewest putts in a round (17) for the LPGA and PGA.”
Joyce also played basketball and volleyball, making marks in both sports. She was a four-time Women’s Basketball Association All-American and set the national tournament single-game scoring record in 1964 with 67 points. She was a player/coach for the Connecticut Clippers of the United States Volleyball Association.
Most people in Palm Beach County know her for the FAU softball program that she built from scratch, just as Howard Schnellenberger did with football. She turned that team into a constant championship contender.
The Owls softball team won 12 conference championships and made 11 NCAA tournament appearances under Joyce, resulting in eight Coach of the Year awards.
She is survived by her sister Janis Joyce; brother Joseph Joyce and his wife Virginia (Ginny); nieces Bridget Joyce Wright and husband Russ, and Meghan Joyce Bolesta and husband Michael; as well as two grand-nieces, Morgan and Brooke, and two grand-nephews in Joseph and Patrick.
FAU has set up a website for condolences and memories: kudoboard.com/boards/P8nUYcWA
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism