After an extensive search, Saint Ignatius High School has found a new leader for its basketball program – Cameron Joyce.
Joyce has accepted the roles of head basketball coach and director of youth programming, and will begin in June.
"It's humbling to be selected as head coach at such a great school with a storied program," Joyce said. "I'm committed to helping our young men become better on and off the court. My job is to be a mentor and to not only teach basketball, but life skills. Basketball is about the relationships that we build."
Joyce will be the first African-American head coach in school history.
"He has a strong faith life. Everybody we talked to about him spoke about how he's a man of character and how well he is able to connect with the kids he's coached," said Mike McLaughlin '85, head soccer coach and member of the hiring committee. "When we look to bring people into the school, we're looking for people who understand the mission of the school. He's someone who possesses the qualities we're looking for in our people. It's exciting to think about the impact he's going to have on our student body, our basketball players, and with our faculty. From every viewpoint, this is a great hire for the school."
Joyce brings a wealth of experience to the Saint Ignatius basketball program. Most recently, he served as the Director of Operations for the men’s basketball program at Ohio University. In that role, Joyce managed all day-to-day operations for the Bobcats, including team travel, practice schedules, two graduate assistant coaches, as well as team and youth camps.
Previously, Joyce spent two seasons as the assistant video coordinator at the University of Florida under head coach Mike White. Joyce broke down and edited game film, preparing opponent scouting reports and supervising three video office interns. During his time in Gainesville, the Gators notched a 48-24 record, advancing to the Regional Final of the 2017 NCAA Championship after defeating East Tennessee State, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Prior to working for the Gators, Joyce served as an assistant coach at Northwood University, his alma mater, for the 2014-15 season. At Northwood, Joyce prepared game plans and scouting reports, organized recruiting, and coordinated team travel.
Before his stop in Florida, Joyce was a graduate assistant at Tiffin University for the 2013-14 season. He has also worked several camps, clinics and tournaments, including the Larry Shyatt Clinic, Mike White Summer Camps & Team Camps and the King James AAU Tournament.
Before starting his coaching career, Joyce enjoyed a solid career as a player. He played for his father, Dru Joyce II, helping to lead St. Vincent-St. Mary to three District Championships, one Regional Championship, and an OHSAA State Semifinal appearance. After a year at the Patterson Prep School in North Carolina, Joyce headed to Kent State University. He transferred to Northwood after a year and a half at Kent State. Joyce played for three years for the Timberwolves, a Division II program, serving as captain for all three seasons. He finished his career with the second-most career assists in Northwood history, earning Second Team All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honors in 2011-12.
"We're very excited to bring Cameron aboard," said Athletic Director Rory Fitzpatrick '88. "Cam is a very thoughtful person. He gave a lot of discernment to this process. I spoke to his coaches at Ohio University and Northwood University, and both of them had nothing but positive things to say about his work ethic and his demeanor with the young men in their programs. He's a calming influence and an exceptional skills coach.
"And more importantly, he understands our mission and what it means to run a program that is guided by the principles of Saint Ignatius High School. One of the reasons he was a finalist is that he exhibited the characteristics of a Man for Others."
Joyce takes over the reins of the program after Brian Becker '77 retired from coaching in March, following an illustrious career. Becker retired as the winningest basketball coach in school history with a 355-169 record, coaching 524 total games over the span of 22 seasons.
During an extensive hiring process that spanned two months and included much Ignatian discernment, a comparison emerged between Joyce and Becker.
"Cameron reminds me a lot of Brian Becker – the two are wired the same," said Rev. Paul Shelton, S.J., basketball team chaplain and hiring committee member. "We're in really good hands, and he's going to build on the great tradition that's already been started. Cameron's humility really stuck out. He's a guy who has worked for everything, worked his way up the ranks and took nothing for granted. And his intelligence is incredible, particularly his basketball IQ. There was a passion, especially about getting kids to compete, but also a humility, in that things are bigger than him. One of the first things he talked about was that he's not here to develop just great basketball players, but also great leaders and young men."
Along his journey, Joyce has impressed nearly everyone who has come into contact with him. Notably, his former head coaches at Ohio University and Northwood University, Saul Phillips and Jeff Rekeweg, highly recommended him.
"He's a great person and leader. He has tremendously high character and comes from a great family," said Phillips. "I trusted him with everything we did at OU. He was a terrific coach for us. He contributed a lot in terms of gameplans and observations. His voice was trusted and heard. He's going to be very good. He'll do a great job at Saint Ignatius."
"He is a confident individual, but he's also humble," said Rekeweg. "He's deliberate in everything he does and how he goes about his business. He is a John Wooden type of communicator. Cam is not a get-in-your-face guy. He's a guy you don't want to let down. He builds great relationships with players, so they don't want to let him down. He's always in control, regardless of the situation, and he was that way as a player, too. And as a player, things didn't come easy for him. He developed as a player and as a leader through hard work. His commitment and work ethic have carried through to coaching. That's why he's a great coach with a bright future – he's had to work on it. He can relate to kids and he understands the process of developing players. He's really good at it."
Joyce becomes the 24th head coach in the 104-year history of Saint Ignatius basketball. The Wildcats have a 1,364-668 record all-time, having won 25 District Championships, 3 Regional Championships, and 1 State Championship.
Joyce is looking forward to building upon this tradition.
"I want to thank Father Guiao, Rory Fitzpatrick, and the entire search committee – they have been nothing short of amazing during this process. I plan to build on the great program that Coach Becker has constructed," Joyce said. "I'm a passionate and energetic coach. I'm here for the young men. We will compete and have lofty goals, and we'll have fun as we compete. On the court, we'll play fast but controlled, with good pace. We will play an exciting brand of basketball, offensively and defensively. Development is the most central part. We'll develop kids from day one until they graduate.
"My wife and I are very excited and thankful. Saint Ignatius is a tremendous program with so many good people, from athletic administration to alumni. We will represent Saint Ignatius with class on and off the court. Basketball is just a game – it's a way to show our faith and to show student-athletes how to be men."
In addition to his role as head basketball coach, Joyce will serve as director of youth programming in the Athletic Department. In this role, Joyce will develop ideas for the use of the school’s athletic facilities in attracting youth to the school’s campus and work with coaches to implement these ideas in the form of camps, clinics, and showcases. Joyce will also serve as event coordinator at many home events and as the leader of the school's summer camps.
"He'll help our athletic department with youth sports programming. We have so many new exciting facilities to utilize," Fitzpatrick said. "He'll be helping all of our coaches in all of our sports to maximize our camp opportunities and use of our facilities. We've been blessed with the Magis Athletic Center and Kyle and McLaughlin fields. He'll help to manage the facilities. Along with that, he'll be a key part of the athletic department in assisting with our daily responsibilities. It's a big department with 16 teams, almost 1,000 student-athletes, and over 100 coaches. There is a lot to manage, and he'll help with all aspects of athletics.
"When you're choosing from a group of exceptional men to be your coach, you're choosing from a position of strength. We had many strong candidates, and when you're choosing from a great group of people, it's never easy. But we're very excited to bring Cam aboard to harness his great energy and love for basketball."