Joan Belmore coached girls' basketball, cross country, track and field, tennis and golf at the varsity level during her career as a physical education teacher at New Britain High School from 1962-2004, where she was rightfully enshrined as a member of the New Britain Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. But Joan has always considered her relationship with basketball a special one.
"The leading sport in the evolution of women's sports over the past 50 years," Joan said, explaining her love of the game, "and demonstrates the love and dedication to excellence that women needed the opportunity to showcase. ... Truthfully, it was one of the few sports that we had the opportunity to participate in (in 1950) and was my introduction to the sports world."
Joan graduated from Peterborough (N.H.) High School in 1954 and received her teaching degree from the University of New Hampshire. She began her career at New Britain, took a two-year break to serve in the Peace Corps on the island of Dominica in the West Indies, and came back to New Britain, where she found a group of girls who were anxious to compete at the high school level. "Their interest and my willingness and we went ahead and did it," she said.
"You always wonder if you're at the right place," Joan said, “but as I look back at the journey and what we helped to accomplish for girls’ sports, I know I was at the right place, at the right time. I would not have wanted to be anywhere but New Britain High, with its wonderful student-athletes. Basically, I was the “all” sports coach, going from one season to the next. It is great to see there are now assistant coaches and freshmen coaches to help develop the programs. It has truly been a life well spent and I appreciate the recognition from those who also experienced the journey.”
Joan’s 1975 New Britain High Hurricanes girls' basketball team finished the regular season 16-1 and she lists the moment they received their ranking for just the second Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Association-sponsored state tournament as a career highlight. "This team represented the best of basketball," Joan said, "with their dedication and love of the game and all are today outstanding citizens that I am very proud of."
A Kensington resident, Joan received her master's degree in special education from Central Connecticut State University. She was the 2002 recipient of the National Association of Girls' and Women's Sports Pathfinder Award for Connecticut, given to honor women who have dedicated their lives to girls and women in sport. She is an avid golfer and enjoys reading and volunteer work.
She lists college professors Evelyn Browne and Barbara Newman of the University of New Hampshire as the greatest influences in her career in addition to Hall of Fame coach Brenda Reilly from the Central Connecticut women's basketball team, who would often present clinics for the high school coaches. If she had any advice to give for those who follow her in the game of basketball: "Play and coach for the love of the sport."