display wall Laker Legends named for Joan Boand 1966-1999

Laker athletics dedicates wall in Fieldhouse to early pioneer in women's sports

Long before 1972 federal regulations opened up opportunities for girls and women to compete in sports, there was Joan Boand.

Boand, professor emeritus of physical education, arrived at Grand Valley in 1966 to teach swimming. Soon, women students asked her to coach softball. After that, it was volleyball, basketball, and track and field.

“My goal was to expose women to every possible sport,” Boand said several years ago. “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.”

President Mantella and Joan Boand seated and talking
President Philomena V. Mantella speaks with Joan Boand.
Keri Becker speaks at podium in front of wall reads: Joan Boand Wall of National Champions
Athletic director Keri Becker addresses the audience at the event October 17 in the Fieldhouse.

Laker athletics honored Boand's achievements October 17 in the Fieldhouse by unveiling a wall of champions named for her.

The display begins in 1966 and continues to 1999, when Boand retired. Keri Becker, director of athletics, said the wall leads to a display of Grand Valley's NCAA championships, adding it's not a coincidence that 18 of 23 national champions are in women's sports.

"Joan has said all along that it took one word to get it started, and that word was 'yes,'" Becker said. "Yes turned into, 'I will,' and 'I will' turned into 'We did.' Your impact will never be forgotten and know that your legacy lives in every female student athlete who wears the GV on their chest."

President Philomena V. Mantella called Boand inspiring for becoming an early leader in women's sports.

"I'm really inspired that before you had to be regulated by Title IX, to open up opportunities for women who wanted to compete, you were down that road as one of the leaders," Mantella said. "That to me is so meaningful. It's the way we have to think. The regulations will follow if we do the right thing."

Boand was inducted into the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame and has received a lifetime achievement award from Women Leaders in College Sports.

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.

attendees all in masks stand with Joan Boand at wall
Attendees, many who played for Boand, stand with her at the Fieldhouse.