Canadian Wild's Joey Lye Is A College Coach By Day, Pro By Night
Joey Lye isn't your typical college softball coach. In fact, the daily life of the 32-year-old, who is currently competing in her first season with the Canadian Wild of the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), can be characterized as anything but typical.
"It’s a one-day-at-a-time thing," Lye told Softball America in a phone interview. "It’s definitely a grind."
Lye, who is also a member of the Canadian national team with Olympic aspirations, spends a lot of time using Google Docs, watching recruiting videos and responding to emails. That's because she doubles as the head softball coach at Bucknell University when she is not playing or training to compete at the sport's highest level. This fall, she will enter her third season at the helm of Bucknell's Division-1 program, which competes in the NCAA's Patriot League.
"The administration at Bucknell understands that I have a goal and a dream of playing in the 2020 Olympics," said Lye, who has been a utility player with Canada's senior national team since 2010. "They have done nothing but support me through that. Not a single word is said if I’m in the gym training and not in my office. I feel empowered to train and pursue my dream and I couldn’t ask for anything more. I’ve never felt this empowered to get after it."
Perhaps the sense of empowerment Lye feels from Bucknell's administration exists because of how she similarly empowers her own team to get after it. The Bison finished the 2019 season with a program-record 14 Patriot League wins, which included a 12–0 start to the campaign against league opponents and a second-place finish in the regular-season standings. Lye was named the 2019 Patriot League Coach of the Year, and has led Bucknell to a 27–8 mark in conference play through her first two seasons at the program's helm.
Aside from leading Bucknell's program in its day-to-day operations outside the white lines of the softball field, Lye also leads from within them, as she often takes part in practices with her team.
"I think because I am the head coach and in charge of the practice planning, I’m able to write myself into practice as much as possible," stated Lye, who graduated from Williams College in 2009. "I’m able to get reps with the team, both on offense and defense. I get live baserunning in, too. I love jumping into practice."
Lye is eager to credit her team and staff at Bucknell for the part they play in her journey to the 2020 Games in Tokyo. Her assistant coaches, Matt Burns and Ketarah DeVries, not only help Lye run Bucknell's softball program, but they are also integral parts of her own training.
"My staff is amazing," the Toronto native said. "They are recruiting on the road all summer long while I’m playing, but they also help me with my own training. They throw front toss to me, feed the machine for me and hit me ground balls after practice. They provide me with any assistance I need. That allows me to feel ready and stay ready to play, even when I'm coaching."
Lye's preparation has been evident so far this NPF season. She currently leads the Wild (9–2) in batting average with a .500 mark and is second on the team in runs scored with six. She will find out next week if she is on Team Canada's roster for the 2019 Pan American Games, which will take place later this summer in Lima, Peru. In just over a month, she'll find out if she's made Canada's Olympic qualifying roster, which would get her one step closer to achieving her lifelong dream of becoming an Olympian.
"It’s surreal to think that being an Olympian is actually a possibility now," Lye said. "I cannot even think of the words to describe how amazing that would feel. It would be unreal to represent the country I grew up in, the country I love. But like everything else in my life, I'm just taking it one day at a time."