Cecil Joyce

Cecil Joyce

Initially, Cecil Joyce listened to his parents.

Upon his graduation from Mt. Juliet High School and as he prepared to embark on his collegiate journey, Joyce recalled that his father had encouraged him to consider a major in engineering because, his dad had said, “that’s where the money is at.”

A single semester of a grueling gauntlet of classes prompted a reassessment of the situation.

Then, naturally, athletics intervened in the form of Joyce’s close friend and burgeoning MTSU women’s basketball star Stephanie Capley (McDonald).

“I was kind of pondering my life choices, my college choice and what I wanted to do,” said Joyce. “I was talking to a friend of mine who I went to high school with me at Mt. Juliet, and she said, ‘You’re a good writer. You’re a sports nut. Why not think about writing sports for Sidelines (the MTSU student newspaper)?

“Here’s the number; they’re looking for a sportswriter.”

Joyce got an immediate assignment from the MTSU publication, and he’s been chronicling Midstate sports for decades since that time. He’s also been honored as one of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Distinguished Service Award winners for the 2023-24 academic year.

“There’s a lot of great things about this job, a lot of fulfilling elements, and it’s a pleasure just doing all of it,” Joyce said. “I’m very honored and it’s humbling to receive this honor.

“You forget it’s a job sometimes. It’s changed a ton over the last 20 years, but it’s still such an enjoyable business to be in.”

Chuck Morris and Tony Stinnett, who remain Nashville-area and MTSU sports staples, helped Joyce break onto the college journalism platform. After an initial feature on legendary former MTSU tennis coach Dale Short, Joyce steadily stacked a variety of bylines and then was hired by Murfreesboro’s award-winning Daily News Journal.

In the 35 years since he first joined the DNJ, Joyce has penned virtually every storyline: myriad state championships, tragic deaths of athletes, Tennessee Vols and Tennessee Titans coverage; even a stint for Billboard Music’s publication on Nashville’s fabled ‘Music Row’ in the mid-1990s.

“I’ve written stories that were pure joy and also heartbreaking but all were great stories that resonated with readers,” said Joyce, who also coached Babe Ruth baseball in Murfreesboro for several years. “Here recently, I did a ton of stories on Janae Edmondson, the volleyball player who had a tragic automobile accident in St. Louis and had her legs amputated. The family trusted me, I went into the home and sat down with them.

“I’ve written several stories, how she is adapting, the family adjusting, and as much as it is a heartbreaking story, I loved getting to write those stories because it’s a great tug of the heart to resonate with any reader.”

TSSAA proudly salutes Cecil Joyce for his years of service and contributions to high school athletes in Tennessee.