Two years removed from high school, Keefer Joyce was waiting for just the right time and just the right opportunity.
Both have come in the same package for the 20-year-old Kelowna sprinter who will ply his athletic trade while getting an education at College of the Sequoias this fall in Visalia, CA.
Joyce, a former provincial high school and B.C. Athletics champion in the 100 and 200 metres, will compete with the COS Giants’ track and field program.
“I’m a little nervous but more excited about what I can accomplish,” said Joyce, who was turned on to the opportunity by Okanagan Sun coach Shane Beatty.
“I can’t wait to see what’s to come, it’s the next stepping stone for me and I’m going to do my best to take advantage of it.”
Since graduating from KSS in 2012, Joyce’s sprinting career has been in a holding pattern of sorts. There’s been no appreciable improvement in his skills or results during that time—due in large part to a lack of high-calibre competitions.
Brandt Fralick, Joyce’s coach and confidant for the last seven years, said that is all about to change.
“For two years he hasn’t improved in competition because he hasn’t been stimulated to do so,” Fralick said of Joyce, whose 100 PB is 10.61 seconds. “Here, he knows he doesn’t have to put the pedal to the metal, but down there he’ll have to. There will be a sense of urgency because everybody down there will be better. It’s the hardest conference in the NCAA, guys down there run 9.9. It’s going to be a great environment for him to be in. Keefer is designed for the spotlight and I would expect him to really improve on his times.”
Joyce doesn’t consider the last two years wasted time, but rather a necessary part of the process in preparing himself—both mentally and physically—for the next level.
“It all worked out right in the end, I feel like it was meant to happen,” said Joyce. “I feel like I’m more mature, more disciplined and have a lot better mindset than I would have two years ago. A lot of times, the first year for kids out of high school is a write off. I’m ready to go in there and take the next step.”
What makes Joyce’s jump to the U.S. college level even more noteworthy is the fact that the 20-year-old has done it despite contending with learning disabilities—dyslexia among them.
Fralick said Joyce is a shining example of patience and perseverance and an inspiration to people of all descriptions, not just young athletes.
“It’s always been his greatest anomaly and he hasn’t talked much about it until now,” Fralick said. “He’s had to train twice as hard to be half as good, he’s had to be so much more focused and more disciplined than others. When people see what he does and what he’s faced with, it’s that much more incredible.
“He’s had to put in 16, 17 hours days to get where he is. To watch and see where he’s come, his story can motivate others.”
And Joyce is ready and willing to put the same work ethic and commitment into effect at College of the Sequioas, both for his education and his track career.
“What you put into it is what you get out of it,” he said. “I want to be in track for as long as I can, but the expectancy is maybe 28 or 29. Track’s not forever. But hopefully during that time I can enjoy what I’m doing, improve at track, get an education and figure out what I want to be. It’s an exciting time for me.”
Joyce, who has been attending classes for the last two weeks, began practicing with the Giants’ track team on Monday.