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For Joey Lye, Positive Mindset Leads To Wide-Ranging Success

February 15, 2016

For years, Joey Lye has had a full plate. About five years ago, she accepted the softball head coaching and women's ice hockey assistant coaching jobs at Stevenson. She has also been a part of the Canadian national softball team since 2010. 

And the 28-year-old recently helped start Starting 9 Softball, a program designed to teach the ins and outs of softball to girls and teenagers ages 8-18.

"For [Lye], from what I have observed and noticed is just her never-ending sense of energy and positivity," said Tracy Johnson, 28, who took over the Stevenson women's ice hockey program in 2013 and has worked with Lye ever since. "You're not feeling it some days, but she very much is able to push through that and make the conscious choice to be positive and be present and have energy."

Issue 218: Stevenson Softball Coach Joey Lye
Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox

That infectious energy began in Lye's native town of Toronto, where she learned to play softball at the age of 7 and developed a passion for hockey as well. She stayed in Toronto until she moved to Massachusetts for college, attending Williams College and playing softball and hockey for the Ephs. 

In softball, Lye's name litters the offensive record book at Williams, where she left as the top hitter in program history, batting .457 during her career. A four-year starter for the Ephs -- as an outfielder initially but later as a shortstop -- Lye capped her career in 2009, when she hit .563 with a .608 on-base percentage during her senior season. She was named the Eastern Conference Division III New England Player of the Year in 2009.

Lye was also a four-year starter for the Ephs' hockey squad. A defenseman, Lye played 100 games for Williams, finishing her career with 18 goals and 23 assists. Having played two sports at Williams while juggling academics, Lye is no stranger to handling a heavy workload.

"There's a lot of leadership thrust upon the students. I think that's what the biggest impact was for me," Lye said of her college days. "As a player, a lot of it was on me -- a lot of the emphasis on development and becoming the best player that I could be. They give you all the tools, but the players who come to practice early or stay late or use the extra ice or go down to the softball field when you're not in season, that's what had the biggest impact on my skills and ability."

Lye began coaching after graduating from Williams, but she stayed with the Ephs as an assistant coach for the hockey and softball teams in 2009-10. A year later, she was the assistant softball coach and head interim hockey coach at Williams. 

Lye then connected with Shera Vis, who was heading up the new Stevenson University women's ice hockey team that would eventually drop the puck on its inaugural season during the 2013-14 season. 

Vis was building a staff and needed an assistant coach. Coincidentally, Stevenson also needed a head softball coach for the 2012 season. Lye was hired in October 2011 to be the head softball coach and assistant hockey coach.

Lye is entering her fifth season as head coach of the Mustangs' softball team and now works on a volunteer basis with the ice hockey team, which is headed by Johnson. The Mustangs' softball team went 19-22 overall last year and 11-5 in the Middle Atlantic Conference. Stevenson begins its 2016 campaign March 5 with a doubleheader against Hood College. 

Issue 218: Stevenson Softball Coach Joey Lye (pink shirts)
Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox

"I'm really excited for this season," Lye said. "The buy-in is at the highest it's ever been. Everyone's on the same page and working towards being the best team we can be. We're excited every season to make a run for the conference championship, but on a day-to-day basis, we're always focused on getting better today."

But as Lye has developed the Stevenson softball program into her vision, she also is playing the game at a high level as part of Team Canada. At the urging of her parents, Lye tried out for her national team in the summer of 2009 and was one of the final cuts. 

Lye took the advice she got from coaches to heart, trained hard and tried out a year later and made the team. Lye, named the captain of Team Canada in 2013, helped Canada earn the gold medal at the Pan American Games in her home province of Ontario in July 2015. Lye drove in the first two runs of Canada's 4-2 gold medal victory against the U.S. July 26.

"Pride is the first word that comes to my head," said Lye, who also mentioned the positives that come from meeting so many new people from around the world who play softball in different ways. "I feel extremely fortunate to be able to play and coach at the same time and use both experiences in the other setting, so it's been a pretty cool experience."

Recently, though, Lye has taken her expertise beyond the college and international ranks, founding Starting 9 Softball this past fall with Adam Gladstone. Lye and Gladstone were connected through Tracey Cantabene, the wife of Stevenson men's lacrosse coach Paul Cantabene.

Starting 9 Softball's mission is to teach young softball players about every facet of the game, from defensive fundamentals, to how to approach an at bat mentally, to how to handle the recruiting process in preparing for college. 

Lye and Gladstone put on their inaugural clinic Jan. 18 at Coppermine Du Burns Arena in Canton. The clinic ran from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., focusing on offensive skills in the morning and defensive skills in the afternoon. Ninety kids from seven different states participated, mostly high schoolers. 

Lye handled the softball side of the clinic, bringing in members from her staff at Stevenson as well as 14 of her players to coach and connect with the participants. Gladstone handled the administrative side of things, procuring sponsorships from Royal Farms Arena, Under Armour and Jimmy's Seafood, as well as Nick and Christina Markakis' Right Side Foundation. 

Gladstone, who has an extensive background in baseball including a stint as the Orioles' instant replay coordinator in 2014, came away extremely impressed with how Lye ran the camp, saying it reminded him of how Orioles manager Buck Showalter and bench coach John Russell run spring training in Sarasota, Fla.  

"No pun intended, Joey had every base covered," Gladstone said. 

Lye's infectious energy works in harmony with her positive attitude. She stresses having the right frame of mind while competing no matter if it's hockey or softball, and conquering the mental part of the game was a key part of Lye's message to the campers during the inaugural Starting 9 Softball camp.

"The internal dialogue as an athlete when untrained is very negative, very self-critical and doesn't help in the confidence-building process, so just talking about being aware of your internal dialogue and the different avenues for working on that," Lye said. "If you can train your mind to approach [an] at bat differently and filled with confidence, then you are going to greatly increase your probability of success."

Issue 218: February 2016