Mike Joyce has been named Division 3 coach of the year by Massachusetts Basketball Coaches Association for the 2022-23 basketball season.

The varsity boys basketball team went 15-0 in league play last year, eventually losing in the playoffs to Old Rochester, finishing the year with an 18-4 record overall.

“I don’t think we’ve ever done that, at least not since I’ve been here,” Coach Joyce said, referring to the undefeated run in the league. “It was an awesome recognition of all the hard work that so many different people put in last year to make it a successful year.”

Coach Joyce will be recognized alongside other award winners at the Massachusetts Basketball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame banquet in Worcester on Sunday, Nov. 12.

Coach Joyce has been the head coach of the varsity boys basketball program for two decades, helping his players become the best versions of themselves on and off the court. He said he meets each of his players where they are, looking to create a team that plays both for each other and for themselves.

“It’s important to be completely open minded about where each kid is at when they come in and enter the program,” he said.

Each player comes from a different background, some rarely facing criticism and others hearing it often, Coach Joyce said. He feels his job is to help his players see the difference between coaching and criticism and to read their reactions to understand what each individual needs. He said communication is key on the court so players can work together.

“That’s another not so easy thing to do — to get teenagers to talk,” he said.

Coach Joyce’s father was a guidance counselor and teacher, and his mother was a school nurse, which gave him “a little genetic bias towards working with people,” he said.

He has taught science for 27 years and in addition to coaching basketball has coached track, and last spring start a girls golf team at the high school.

“Coaching is just fun, it’s the same as teaching,” he said. “If you’re working with this age group, the coaching part kind of just makes sense because it’s reaching them in a different way through a different medium.”

For example, not all students love biology, he said, but most who play a sport are passionate about it and will work hard to improve, a lesson that can transfer to all aspects of life.

He recalled how a season early in his career set the foundation for the program in its current form.

“We had a group of kids that were, on paper, probably not going to wow anyone, but they just played so hard and were so competitive,” Coach Joyce said. “I mean, at the practices, sometimes we had to kind of tell them to relax a little bit.”

The team went on to win the school’s first boys basketball title in the Eastern Atlantic Conference. He said many of those players, now in their 30s, come back to play against the current varsity team to demonstrate the kind of effort he wants during practices and games.

“We play harder than any other team and that’s three-quarters of the game right there,” he said. “You can affect how hard you play, and the only other part is taking care of the ball.”

To Coach Joyce, effort is what made last year’s team so successful. He wants his players and students to embrace the same lesson.

“Resilience and perseverance — those two qualities can take you a long way,” Coach Joyce said. “If you work hard and put your time and effort into something, then you can get results from that.”