Joyce signed a letter of intent Tuesday to attend Drexel University and compete for the swimming and diving team next year.
“It’s a huge relief,” Joyce said. “I’m so lucky and excited to be attending such a great school, and to be part of the Drexel swim team.”
One visit to Drexel’s campus and Joyce immediately knew it was the school for her.
“It was the ‘ah ha moment’ that everyone looking at colleges hopes for,” Joyce said. “The campus is beautiful, the coaches were amazing and the team is very academically motivated, along with the university itself.”
Joyce is thankful to her parents, Christopher and Jennifer, for getting her to this point.
“They’ve always supported me, all the late nights and long drives and tournaments,” Joyce said. “It’s cliche, but I really couldn’t have done this without them.”
At Stroudsburg, Joyce takes advanced placement classes, is the secretary of the National Honor Society and has a 4.0 grade point average. She plans to be major in pre-med.
“Drexel had all the opportunities I wanted as a pre-med student,” Joyce said. “The co-op program will allow me to gain experience in a hospital and help me figure out what I want to specialize in.”
At an early age, Joyce’s love of the water was obvious to her YMCA coach Mike Wolbert.
“Emily joined our team when she was eight years old,” Wolbert said. “She was very athletic, very determined. She always wanted to be the best and race everybody.”
Last year was the first time Joyce qualified for the YMCA Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. — not an easy feat by any means.
“There about 1,600 athletes that qualify out of the 250,000 that swim for the YMCA,” Wolbert said. “She’s already qualified for a few events this year as well.”
Joyce is the first athlete to compete collegiately for second-year Stroudsburg coach Michele Saffer.
“I am very excited for Emily, she’s a fantastic swimmer and great all-around leader,” Saffer said. “She has tremendous drive and will swim until she drops.”
Joyce is the two-time Mountain Valley Conference champion in the 500 freestyle and is three-time champion in the 200 freestyle.
As a junior, Joyce qualified for the PIAA championships after her school-record time of 5:08.94 in the 500 free at the District 11 Class AAA Championships. She took fourth in both the 200 and 500 free at the district meet, setting the school record in the 200 as well with a time of 1:55.42.
Last year, Joyce shared MVC Swimmer of the Year honors with Stroudsburg’s Alex Burns and has been part of the Mounties’ two-time MVC champion 400 free relay team.
Drexel’s swimming and diving team posted a record of 2-8 last season. Joyce feels she can help coach Shawn Markey and the Dragons turn things around.
“The coaches are working to build a program of very academically oriented athletes,” Joyce said. “They want a disciplined team, a team that works hard in the classroom and uses that same work ethic in their training.”
Markey can already see Joyce’s potential and expects her to do great things her senior year at Stroudsburg.
“Emily has an unlimited amount of potential at the next level,” Markey said. “She will be an integral part in our distance free events next year. We are excited to see what Emily can accomplish this year and are looking forward to working with her in September.”