Joan Joyce, nfca, Joan Joyce utility/pitcher first team all-american, nfca all-american

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The NFCA and its Board of Directors will honor the late Joan Joyce’s dedication to women’s athletics and the sport of softball by naming the first-team Utility/Pitcher All-America award after the legendary sportswoman. Each year across all NFCA collegiate divisions, the honoree will have the distinction of being named the Joan Joyce Utility/Pitcher First Team All-American.

"As we near the first anniversary of Joan Joyce's passing, we are honored to add her name to our collegiate First-Team All-America UT/P awards, said NFCA Executive Carol Bruggeman. “Joan's on-field hitting and pitching talents were unmatched.  She was an incredible athlete, succeeding at a high level not only in softball but in every other sport in which she competed. Joan Joyce will forever be a legend in our sport.  One of the ways we can celebrate the icon's unrivaled talents is to add her name permanently to this coveted award."

Joyce, an NFCA Hall of Famer and longtime Florida Atlantic University head softball coach, passed away on March 26, 2022 at the age of 81. Inducted into 20 Halls of Fame over a remarkable life, Joyce finished with a 1002-674-1 coaching record in 28 seasons. Under her guidance, the Owls won 12 conference championships, participated in 11 NCAA tournaments, and earned eight conference Coach of the Year honors.

“Joan was an iconic figure in the softball world and the sporting world,” said FAU Vice President & Director of Athletics Brian White. “We are very grateful that the NFCA has bestowed her name upon this All-American award. Her impact and legacy will be felt forever.”

Joyce is well-known for striking out Major League Baseball players in charity exhibitions, including home run king Hank Aaron. She fanned fellow sports legend Ted Williams in front of 17,000 fans at a minor-league park in 1961 in her hometown of Waterbury, Conn. 

Excelling at multiple sports, Joyce started playing softball with the Raybestos Brakettes (Stratford, Conn.) at age 14. She left the Brakettes to star in the pitching circle for the Orange (Calif.) Lionettes in the mid-1960s, before returning to the Brakettes in 1967 and playing for another near decade. Over her illustrious pitching career, she compiled a record of 753-42, had 150 no-hitters, 50 perfect games and a ridiculous 0.09 ERA. She also batted .324. 

Joyce was a co-founder, with tennis icon Billie Jean King and LPGA golfer Janie Blaylock, of the International Women’s Professional Softball Association in the 1970s. After that, she spent 19 years on the LPGA Tour and is listed in Guinness World Records for the fewest putts (17) by anyone — man or woman — in a professional round. She also coached golf at Florida Atlantic University from 1996-2014.

Joyce served as player/coach for the United States Volleyball Association’s Connecticut Clippers, and competed in four national tournaments. She was also a longtime National Association for Girls and Women in Sport and high school volleyball official.

As a basketball player, Joyce was a four-time Women’s Basketball Association All-American, three-time AAU basketball All-American, and set the national tournament single-game scoring record (67 points) in 1964 as a member of the U.S. National Basketball team.

The NFCA recognizes student-athletes’ on-field accomplishments each year with its prestigious All-America awards. These honors are voted on by the Association’s All-America Committees, comprised of member head coaches, representing each group’s respective regions.

The NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association) is the professional organization for fastpitch softball coaches. Known for its highly-regarded All-Region and All-America awards, the NFCA also educates and supports softball coaches on a variety of different levels: from podcasts to a comprehensive drills database, to in-person events and a National Convention.

Learn more about the NFCA and consider joining over 6,700 coaches today.

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