WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

Joyce Iamstrong lives up to name

2013-03-28T19:00:00Z 2014-05-10T19:23:21Z Joyce Iamstrong lives up to nameMike Nieto mike.nieto@nwi.com, (219) 933-3232 nwitimes.com
March 28, 2013 7:00 pm  • 

In the record books of T.F. South High School and Jefferson College in Hlllsboro, Mo., Joyce Holloway exists.

After that, you would be hard to find a record of her under that name.

The Times 2009 Illinois female athlete of the year legally changed her name on Aug. 15, 2011 to Joyce Iamstrong.

The Florida Gulf Coast senior said she even changed her birth certificate. The reason behind it, she does not care to tell. At least right now.

"It was a recreation and allowed me to move forward from what happened in the past," Iamstrong said. "It was just something I needed to do and the name (I-am-strong) fit me for what I am."

She did talk about her faith, but did not indicate how much or if any part it played in her change.

"If you knew my story, you would understand," Iamstrong said. "But one day you will when I choose to go into more detail."

Her mother, Tina Watson, has accepted her daughter's new name, something she didn't at first.

"At first, I didn't know what she was changing it to," Watson said. "I thought maybe she was changing it to Watson, but then she told me. At first, I didn't like it, but I have learned to accept it and it is not a problem.

"There is a story behind it and it is her story to tell."

Iamstrong was a star basketball player at T.F. South, coming up at the end of her freshman year and became the program's all-time leading scorer.

She was a two-time state qualifier in Class AA and 3A in the shot put.

She said some of her strength came from her believing she could play Division I basketball and not listening to those who doubted her.

She was a "'tweener" at 5-foot-9, but believed she could make it to Division I.

"A lot of people around South said no way I was D-I material," Iamstrong said. "They didn't think I was good enough, but I didn't let that stop me."

She knew she had to get better and figured rather than walking on at a Division I school, her best route was going to a junior college.

So she played two years at Jefferson College and her freshman year it made it to the NJCAA Division I title game, falling to Gulf Coast Community College.

She made the NJCAA Region XVI academic team. As a sophomore, she led her team to a 21-11 record before falling in the NJCAA Region XVI tournament, and was chosen for the Missouri Community College Association Student Leadership Award.

It paid off as she landed a scholarship to the Fort Myers, Fla. school, a fledgling Division I program.

Last year, Florida Gulf Coast made it to the NCAA tournament and this year, it won the Atlantic Sun Conference and she made all-conference. Florida Gulf Coast made it to the WNIT, losing to Winthrop in the first round.

Eagles coach Karl Smesko said Holloway was an example of putting the time to make herself better.

"She came to us and worked hard at getting herself into better physical condition," Smesko said. "Joyce was always solid on the academic end and she just wanted to get better and she has."

Iamstrong finished the season averaging 12.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.

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