Retired faculty, trailblazing women's coach dies

headshot of Joan Boand
Joan Boand, retired faculty member and longtime Laker coach, died at age 88.
Image Credit: University Communications

Joan Boand, retired faculty member and longtime Laker coach, died January 27 at her home. She was 88.

Boand, professor emeritus of physical education, arrived at Grand Valley in 1966 to teach swim classes. Blazing a trail for women in sports at Grand Valley, Boand was soon coaching softball, volleyball, basketball and track and field.

President Philomena V. Mantella called Boand extraordinary.

“Her accomplishments are extraordinary, and so was she," Mantella said. "Her reach has extended long past her career with lasting effects on women in sports and her dedication to GVSU’s programs. 

"Until a few years ago, she was still helping in the press box at Lubbers Stadium and being around the Laker events and fans she loved. She will be sorely missed, but her legacy definitely lives on.”

from left are President Mantella, Joan Boand and Keri Becker standing against a wall in the Fieldhouse that reads NCAA Championships
At a 2020 unveiling of the Wall of Champions named for her, Joan Boand (center) stands with (at left) President Philomena V. Mantella and Keri Becker, athletic director.
Valerie Hendrickson
wall of champions with Joan Boand's photo and words, Laker Legends Joan Boand 1966-99
Keri Becker said Boand had an incredible impact and it is not a coincidence that 20 of 27 national championships are in women's sports.
Valerie Hendrickson

Athletics honored Boand's achievements in 2020 by unveiling a Wall of Champions named for her in the Fieldhouse.

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 20 of 27 national titles 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.' 

"Today, we sponsor 11 exceptional women’s programs that have done nothing but excel at the highest levels. Joan’s legacy will never be forgotten and will live on in every female student athlete who wears the GV logo on their chest."