High School Player
The significance of her career as a member of the Lyman Hall High School girls' basketball team has earned Joyce Rivers induction into the Lyman Hall, New Haven Tap Off Club and Connecticut Women's Basketball halls of fame. Her senior year alone, Joyce earned Adidas All-America and Parade All-America honors, while averaging 22.3 points, 14 rebounds and four assists per game as a forward for the Trojans, graduating in 1978 with 1,145 points, more than any other girl or boy in the history of the school. But Joyce also likes to joke that her career, while finishing with a flourish, got off to somewhat of an inauspicious start.
"They gave me No. 60, an illegal number, so on the rare occasion I was put in the junior varsity game (coach had a rule no freshmen play varsity), the team would get a technical foul," Joyce said of the very beginning. "Needless to say, I did not play much as a freshman.
"The hard work I did as a freshman and during the summer before my sophomore year paid off. During my sophomore season, I was called on to replace an injured starter and never relinquished the spot. I recall an article being written about me that season referring to 'the sophomore slump.' Seriously. How could I have a slump after a freshman season with an illegal number?"
Joyce went on to earn second team All-Housatonic League and second team all-state honors as a sophomore before being named as a first team all-league and all-state selection in her junior and senior seasons. She led the Housatonic League in scoring in each of her final two seasons, delivering the Trojans to a pair of conference titles. Following her majestic senior season, Joyce was honored as Housatonic League MVP, New Haven Tap Off Club All-County and New Haven Tap Off Club Outstanding Player, in addition to the two All-America distinctions. She was named to the list of "Who's Who in High School All-Americans."
Joyce left Lyman Hall with school records for points in a career (1,145), points in a season (469), points in a game (42), highest season scoring average (22.3), highest career scoring average (17.2), career rebounds (767) and most games in double figures. She was 10th all-time on Lyman's assist list. Joyce finished with career averages of 17.2 points, 12 rebounds and four assists per game for coach Nick Economopoulos, whom she can still remember once biting down on a towel as she took a pair of game-winning free throws in a state tournament game.
"Looking back, it made high school a very special time in my life," Joyce said of basketball. "I was able to attend camps and meet many special people over the five years that I played basketball. ... Coach would learn just how stubborn and determined a Rivers could be."
Joyce attended St. Bonaventure University on a scholarship, but left after one year due to an injury. She completed her degree in graphic design at Central Connecticut State University. In 2018, she retired from her position as an art teacher with Glastonbury Public Schools.
Having begun playing basketball with her four brothers in the family driveway and at town courts. Joyce credits her two sisters for their support, helping provide what Joyce calls "the largest cheering section all the time." As for her advice for aspiring basketball players or coaches, Joyce lists a quote from former high school basketball coach Tim Notke: "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard."