Joan Boand, professor emeritus of physical education
Joan Boand took advantage of an opportunity at a new college in West Michigan and, over a 30-year period, created countless opportunities for women to try, play and excel in sports.
Boand was hired to teach swimming at Grand Valley in 1966. She soon learned that at a relatively new institution, people are expected to be rather versatile. “Soon, I was teaching everything,” she said.
And, it turned out, she coached nearly every women’s sport. Men’s sports at Grand Valley started in 1964 with basketball; cross country followed in 1965 and crew in 1966. Boand pestered and cajoled then Athletic Director Charles Irwin for funds to support softball, and eventually, other women’s teams.
“Coaching was really by accident,” Boand said. “It was precipitated by students who wanted to play softball. At that time, the first Fieldhouse was built and the men were going in to play basketball and I thought that the women should be able to do the same thing.”
Boand said recruiting students for teams was not difficult. “That was the easiest part. The women wanted to do it; they wanted to play because they had so few opportunities in high school,” she said.
Within a few years, Boand was coaching softball, basketball, track and field, and volleyball.
“My goal was to expose women to every possible sport,” she said. “At that time, men and women had separate physical education classes. I wanted the women to play and understand sports because I knew it would prepare them for whatever situation they were in.”
She said administrative support for women’s athletics pushed Grand Valley to the forefront in the state, as the university was the first four-year institution in Michigan to offer athletic scholarships to women.
The teams Boand coached had much success. She coached the Laker volleyball team for 26 years, compiling a 557-330 record and winning six Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles. Her women’s basketball teams won four straight league titles from 1974-1978.
Boand said she greatly appreciates her colleagues recognizing her and Patti Rowe by naming an endowment fund for them. “Students will have amazing opportunities through this fund and go on to do great things,” she said.