Mike Joyce: Providence Journal Coach of the Year

Congratulations to Mike Joyce!
Posted on 06/05/2018


Coach Mike Joyce named 2017-18 Providence Journal

Coach of the Year!

Coaches Maguire and Joyce to be honored

By John Gillooly

Journal Staff Writer

Posted Jun 4, 2018 at 9:06 PM


They coach high school teams in vastly different sports.

North Kingstown’s Julie Maguire roams field hockey sidelines while Ponaganset’s Mike Joyce works on the edge of wrestling mats.

Two coaches, who in the 2017-18 school year, shared similar experiences as they directed their teams to state championships.

In the fall Maguire led the Skippers to the Division I state title — the 11th time in Maguire’s 30-year head-coaching career that North Kingstown has won the state field hockey crown.

Last winter Joyce, in his third year as Ponaganset head wrestling coach, directed the Chieftains to the school’s first state championship, then took them to the New England title.

But Maguire and Joyce shared much more than just watching their players enjoy a state title celebration this year. They are coaches who seem to understand that developing a player’s self-esteem and character as well as physical skills should be a high school coach’s priority.

“I have confidence in them,” Maguire said about her players, “If I show I have confidence in them, they are going to believe in themselves.”

“You get them to know you care about them. You believe in their welfare, not just in sports, but everything they do in life,” said Joyce. “If a kid knows that you trust them, then they believe in themselves.”

It’s that combination of championships and concern that has earned Maguire and Joyce selection as the Providence Journal 2017-18 Female and Male Coaches of the Year, respectively. They will be honored at the third Providence Journal All-State Sports Awards banquet on June 20 at the Rhode Island Convention Center.

“Kids catch on that you really care about their welfare pretty quick,” said Joyce.

Joyce grew up in Ohio and wrestled at St. Peter Chanel High, a wrestling powerhouse under the direction of National Wrestling Hall of Fame coach Graham Coghill. Joyce came to Ponaganset as a language teacher in 1998 and served a few years as an assistant mat coach while he and his wife were raising a young family.

Even before he became the Chieftains head coach he started laying the groundwork for what would become this year’s state and New England championship seasons. Ten years ago he formed a youth wrestling club in the Foster-Glocester area.

“All the successful high school wrestling programs I had seen through the years had feeder programs,” said Joyce. “It’s very difficult to develop a good high school wrestler in only three or four years. The seniors on our team this year were members of that first club team 10 years ago.

“Our guys made a big commitment to make this happen,” said Joyce, whose son Mike, a Ponaganset freshman, won the 113-pound state title this season.

There are few active Rhode Island high school coaches in any sport with more state titles on their resumé than Maguire, but putting another state plaque in the North Kingstown trophy case isn’t what has kept her on the sidelines for three decades.

“It’s not about the winning, it’s the kids,” said Maguire.

She understands, if you have a passion for what you do, it’s going to show on the field. It’s the coach’s job to identify that passion and cultivate it.

“There are some you identify it early in their high school careers. You see that passion in a younger player and you say ‘I can’t retire’,” said Maguire.

Fortunately for three decades of North Kingstown field hockey players, Maguire has always been there teaching that teamwork is the key to success in all walks of life, but especially on an athletic field.

“It’s the cohesiveness within the team,” Maguire said about her teams’ successes through the decades. “They believe in each other.”

And the coach believes in them.

It’s what high school sports is all about and these two coaches personify that idea.

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