Athlete Interviews

Isobel Joyce Finds Comfort in Coaching

Isobel Joyce, cricket, ireland, field hockey
Isobel Joyce

Former Ireland Cricket Captain Isobel Joyce recently retired from playing internationally to focus on coaching and her new role with Clontarf Cricket Club as well as coaching field hockey and teaching Zumba

Athlete Profile is hosted by Chris Stafford

Podcast length: 17′ 58″

Ireland’s Isabel Joyce retired from international cricket at the end of last season and has already been signed up as  the Director of Coaching at Clontarf Cricket Club in Dublin where she will have overall responsibility for all the teams. Cricket is in his genes and with all four siblings including her twin sister Cecilia, and her husband John Anderson playing the game there was never any doubt that this popular all rounder would transition from playing to coaching again and having already served as head coach at Dublin University – Trinity. She earned her first cap for Ireland in 1999 and has kept the team in 62 matches across all formats of the game including two ICC Women’s World 2020 tournaments. Isobel also spent some winter seasons in Australia playing for the Hobart Hurricanes and she’s also played for the railway union team that won the women’s Irish Hockey League title and says she enjoys the contrast of coaching both sports now. Chris Stafford caught up with Izzy during a break from coaching her school hockey team.


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[00:00:24] Hello I’m Chris Stafford. And thank you for downloading this podcast of the Athlete Profile show where we take a closer look at the career of an athlete who has made her name in sport.

[00:00:36] My guest on this episode is Ireland’s Isabel Joyce who retired from international cricket last season and has already been signed up as director of coaching at Clontarf Cricket Club in Dublin where she will have overall responsibility for all the teams. Cricket is in his genes and with all four siblings including her twin sister Cecilia and her husband John Anderson playing the game, there was never any doubt that this popular all rounder would transition from playing to coaching again and having already served as head coach at Dublin University – Trinity. She earned her first cap for Ireland in 1999 and has kept the team in 62 matches across all formats of the game including two ICC Women’s World 2020 tournaments. He also spent some winter seasons in Australia playing for the Hobart Hurricanes and she’s also played for the railway union team that won the women’s Irish Hockey League title. And she says she enjoys the contrast of coaching both sports now. And I caught up with Izzy during a break from coaching her school hockey team.

[00:01:46] Well welcome to the program. Thanks for having me.

[00:01:50] Well tell us a little bit about where you are now. Of course it’s the middle of the winter season there in Ireland. Talk a little bit about where you are now what’s your what’s keeping you busy before the cricket really gets started.

[00:02:03] Well I’m in a small town in Ireland called Bray, it’s quite close to Dublin and I’ve just been doing school hockey club hockey coaching for the past few months. And since the World Cup that’s been my focus and amongst our holiday she said yeah you’ve had a busy time of it when you decided to retire.

[00:02:24] How did that actually come about because that’s that’s a big decision for any athlete that easy to actually hang up the pads in this case the cricket bat in terms of being an international player and all that went with it. So how did the decision come about.

[00:02:40] Yeah it’s something that has been at the forefront of my mind for a few years as being on the wrong end I suppose of my career but I suppose when I first started really considering this was when I spoke to a mentor and former coach of mine Judy Price and she just said look it’s really hard to decide when to quit you know people say it’s true that when you know you know I was kind of waiting for that moment and it was actually during the summer. It was after World Cup qualifiers for the tournament we’d just played the West Indies in November and I said you know I just I always had before that. And I remember waking up and kind of dreading playing a match which is definitely the wrong way to feel I had playing international cricket and I thought right well you know I still enjoy parts that I really enjoy being part of the team that I was on. Those are great bunch of girls and if we can qualify for the World Cup I’ll be able to get through to that and go out I suppose at the top of my international career and I spoke to my twin sister about this and she kind of felt the same. So we stuck with it together and decided that we just we’d announce it at the end of the tournament rather than beforehand because we didn’t really want a big deal made beforehand. We just kind of wanted to go quietly at the end.

[00:03:54] Let’s move on to your coaching now because you’ve been hired now. I can’t have Cricket Club to head that coaching that starts in a couple of months time. Did you say.

[00:04:04] Yeah well I’ll meet with them in the next two weeks and start laying plans for and I’ll the man’s first team coach and then I’ll be overseeing the other aspects of Beckett in the club as well. And so it’s just about getting pre-season stuff in order and then with the side of things trying to plan all the different levels what what they’re going to cover in the season and what our aims are and so I won’t actually get coaching players until probably a bad March April where and before that will be it’ll be a kind of fitness type stuff. Once the hockey season and rugby and all that finishes up after Easter and then we’ll that’s truffled and cricket training so that’s that’s all I’m looking for.

[00:04:45] Well it’s going to be an interesting transition option and to be coaching the men as well.

[00:04:50] So you will give them equal time with the club or other other women are going to be be pretty neat coaching as much as the men. How are you going to fit that all in the women’s team.

[00:05:02] They actually have their own coach who I suppose will be nine manager for so I’ll be training with them not necessarily actually coaching them apart from maybe some one on one stuff. The high will be kind of my biggest route the women will be playing the matches with them and being a mentor in that aspect of the game and they’ve got a few really good up and coming a lot of up and coming players a couple of very exciting ones and Larmer it’s an Internet heavy so it’ll be where I’ll be helping them more ice or as in the demand side of the running the training sessions you know running warm up for long on match days and then for the sessions I’ll be taking on some of the deans and the transfer coaches so you know they all train at different times of the doing my best to give everyone equal equal time.

[00:05:49] It’s not like there are plenty of coaches in the club I’m not I’m not the only one that’s there.

[00:05:54] I was curious as to when athletes retire you know where they’re going to go next and why they make those decisions. But it seems that going into coaching was a natural for you is it that was there any other options there that you considered or was always going to be a coaching career when she retired.

[00:06:11] I actually studied journalism in college and I did it bits and pieces of writing for Cricket Ireland and I did work for the sports section in the Irish Mail on Sunday and for a few years. And so yeah I like keeping that side of things off I really enjoy the writing side of things.

[00:06:28] Verse I think I lighting it side more and I’m a people person and I’m helpers a kind of a kind of comes naturally to me to become a coach or I am. But yeah I’m kind of more full into it than anything else. This job came about by a guy that’s in front are seeing me playing and watching and seeing me helping my partner and the other ends basically went to smash and when I was playing in a men’s match. So it’s it’s kind of it’s not a normal race I guess but yeah it’s I suppose it shows that it’s something that I would be good at than someone else’s writing without thought.

[00:07:05] Yeah well absolutely got a natural talent for it. What is it you most enjoy about coaching. Let’s talk about hockey to start off with what is it that you enjoy about coaching hockey.

[00:07:15] And my favorite thing about catching hockey is is creating a team environment thus and the girls enjoy coming out.

[00:07:23] It’s mostly girls that I coach so I’ve got a terrific team right now in my school at the senior level and they clearly just love me and love being around each other. They ranged in age between 15 and 18 and just the attitude of everyone on this go out is fantastic and it’s something that we’ve really worked on is the culture within the team so I would say that’s my my my biggest strength that was Mike and my captaincy crew as well is creating an environment where you know the kids really enjoy it but also they learn life skills as well as their sports skills and I think that’s a really important aspect of sport and of the reasons why it’s important to try and get as many people but also women and girls into sport. What is it that you most enjoy about coaching cricket.

[00:08:12] And cricket a little bit different because it’s very technical so I’m very technically minded so I really enjoy that aspect of us. And when you when you kind of have that relationship with the air that they finally understand each other’s language it’s it’s hard and it can be kind of difficult to get through and what you mean when you’re catching a technical score so when that kind of more is broken then you really can come help them pay the player and help them achieve whatever their goal is. It might be just going around it might be getting the ball to land on the strip or could be you know getting their International Cup whatever it is helping them achieve that goal.

[00:08:49] Absolutely. So if you were to consider who you’ll coach your cricket career as a player what did you most enjoy about what and meant what were your biggest takeaways when you did look in the rearview mirror on your career.

[00:09:05] And the impact on my teammates I think and so I always tried to make my my teammates believe they could do more than they would have thought if I wasn’t there. I don’t know if that makes sense. I guess what I’m trying to say is I would show absolute belief in their abilities and help them achieve what they might not otherwise have thought they could.

[00:09:26] And we’ve seen an increase in women and girls coming into all sports that way in recent years I’m sure and in the span of your career you’ve watched more girls and women coming into cricket and hockey. Do you think that that’s continuing to be an upward trend now. And of course with the Irish OPU women’s team doing so well winning that silver medal last year at the World Cup that that was another incredible boost for for women in sport for the sport for the country but generally to inspire young girls. How do you see those trends and if you’re coaching at a school level Club level give us a sense of what that picture looks like for you.

[00:10:09] Yeah I think the numbers are going up but also it’s that the whole 2020 campaign and Arlen’s been huge which basically says that by 2020 we’ll have 20 percent more coverage. And I think that that the big difference for me this year was when we came back from the West Indies the World Cup and the tournament was it was televised on Sky Sports and whenever we Gannaway on tour I coach with Kerry Shirlington who was also on the team whenever he used to come back from tour to go coach together the kids would always ask them how our holiday was and they couldn’t really grasp that we’ve went on holiday we were playing a tournament. So I thought it was kind of a holiday whereas this time datable all us on television. Now we haven’t maybe performed as well as we would have liked but I in both myself and Claire he did reasonably well and a couple of the matches and one of them came up and said we were asked who our idols sports were and we and I said You’ve been listening to them and they’ve never said anything like that before. They were all amazed at us and said How did your tournament GO. Just the way that they were thinking about us those little girls a was totally different. And I think that that’s that’s a huge shift. And little girls mindsets they actually see it as a valid way to spend your time and a viable career in the future. So I think that’s a big problem has been girls saying sports once they hit 14 15 and I hope that the change in the way things are approached will help us keep those girls in the sport for longer and hopefully into other shows.

[00:11:43] Yes that’s exactly that’s the retention age isn’t it. When they get into them in teens to keep them involved and I’m sure you’ve told them about mates going on holiday.

[00:11:54] Absolutely. It’s it’s the whole you can you can always stay on for a few days at the end for a holiday if you really want to.

[00:12:00] There you go. There you go.

[00:12:02] Well if you look back now at all you’ve done in sport you know from hockey to cricket there’s a player as a coach you could look packager is so far from where you are. What do you think he most valued about being involved with sport generally Izzy.

[00:12:20] I think it’s making friends around the world and having the opportunity to travel a lot it’s the last two years down to Australia and when I’m there I actually haven’t got the friends that are massive Cricket Ireland or that I know through friends. It’s just you know if you’re in trouble you know you can call someone in any part of the world really that’s probably a connection to to someone you’ve met and violence. I think that Aborigines engage in a lot of friends for life and it’s probably been said too much but it’s great that we meet along the way to make that journey worthwhile. It is and it’s not just on the field of play as it hits off the field of play and the community that you build. After that it’s turning up at your club and into a charity. And I love that ice hockey club where there’s a place for anyone no matter what you bring to the table. Ever thought about us as kids there is that interest in arts and community and everyone’s kind of fighting for each other.

[00:13:17] So what are you most looking forward to now about your career going forward. What would what’s on your bucket list.

[00:13:24] I just think the answer for a female coach are huge name. It’s definitely one of the reasons that I was employed by Cantare is an ongoing issue but can is by and understand them and I think about some things that I’m looking for is my husband she had workers and the brother plays on the same team. Yeah they’re already there already.

[00:13:43] They’re already engaging in mental warfare so it will be interesting.

[00:13:49] Oh don’t see one of your brothers so this is going to be a little bit family rivalry going on there. I’m curious what you would consider to be your three say career highlight so far is a.

[00:14:01] Career highlight.

[00:14:02] Number one would be winning the qualification tournament for the World Cup and we won the collocations tournament in 2015 against and against Bangladesh and Thailand. So that whole trip was amazing. The whole team just got on brilliantly and we won the final kind of on the last call and very exciting circumstances. I actually didn’t do very well personally in the game it was just a brilliant game and that was all going to be against Bangladesh again during the summer. We had a last fall winter and that time I actually did help bring the team home so that was massive and I think there will be just captaining the Hobart Hurricanes and the Big Bash last year with the Irish kind of all around her. I wouldn’t have been terribly the person you’d expect to be in that role but am running it on the pitch and they are on the NCG as captain of the franchise team was really something I couldn’t change.

[00:15:03] Oh I envy you that moment. There’s nothing like that in the sieging or any of those cricket grounds you know they’re just they’re just sort of anonymous with the sport and there must be a special moment live with you forever.

[00:15:16] Yeah and my husband was there and another friend of ours and we won we won the second game but I ran as captain and I just never forget. I did get a few moments I remember looking around and I got to Savory’s which isn’t something I necessarily would have thought to day before as captain you’ve got a lot when you’re on your mind. But I took the time thinking I didn’t have any more funds and yet to get to do something like this so I’m glad that I did and really stands out in my memory.

[00:15:42] Yes I’m sure it does well. I’m sure you’ll make a lot more memories too. It’s a lot more to do in the sport of both cricket and hockey so we look forward to watching you do that and of course good luck with your teams there at Cronshaw and I hope you can beat the family at the game too.

[00:16:01] Yeah thanks I’m not sure where I will. I know I can talk to him but it will be bittersweet. Thank you so much for having me on and for all of the work that you do on women’s sports.

[00:16:11] Well thank you. Appreciate you taking the time to come on the show and the very best of luck.

[00:16:16] Thanks again.

[00:16:29] Thanks again to Izzy and forget to check our Web site at where you’ll find the show notes accompanying this episode just full transcending sport. Click on the drop down menu for listen to find all of our podcasts here at WiSP Sports and you’ll also find a lot of blogs and articles and videos too on the Web site and also a live show – Face to Face – which goes out on Facebook so do follow us on social media at WiSP Sports to find out when the next episode of that is coming and also on Twitter and Instagram and LinkedIn. And if you have any comments or questions or suggestions for the show or any of the shows that we have here at WiSP Sports do drop us a line to info at WiSP Sports dot com. We always love to hear from you and if you have any stories that you would like to share about your involvement with sport whatever it is and wherever it is in the world please do let us know. I’m Chris Stafford. And until the next time thank you for listening and supporting women in sport everywhere.


Photo: Isobel Joyce
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