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Joan V. Roller

Coach Joan Roller at Tabor Academy
Joan V. Roller

Coach 1982-1986: Girls Basketball • Girls Lacrosse

Joan Roller joined the Tabor Academy faculty in the fall of 1970, beginning a career at the school that would span the next 46 years. During that time, she had a significant impact on student achievement both in academics and athletics, and she is recognized by colleagues and alumni alike for her commitment to the school community as a teacher, coach, college counselor, director of the Academic Resource Center, advisor, and role model. One of only two female classroom teachers on the faculty when Tabor returned to coeducation in September of 1979, Joan immediately became a champion for the girls’ athletic programs. By 1982, Tabor started to create opportunities for varsity girls’ teams in an increasing number of sports. That year, Joan established her credentials within the athletic department as an assistant coach in varsity lacrosse and the head JV girls’ basketball coach. She became the head varsity basketball coach the following winter and over the next three years guided the fledgling girls’ program to consecutive winning seasons, an appearance in the finals of the Southeastern League Independents Tournament, and a tie for first place in the newly formed league. Several members of that year’s basketball team would go on to compete at the collegiate level in multiple sports, thereby beginning a tradition of athletic excellence and accomplishment extending beyond Tabor that continues to endure. Believing strongly in the potential for the development of female athletic programs at Tabor and committed to inspiring young girls to believe in themselves, she instilled in her players the confidence to step outside their comfort zones to discover their athletic strengths and develop a love of competition.

As one of the first female head coaches of a Tabor girls’ varsity program, Joan served as a pioneer for the female coaches who would follow her. Throughout those early years, she promoted increased recognition of the girls’ programs, argued successfully for equal practice time and use of facilities among the boys’ and girls’ teams, advocated for more qualified and experienced referees during games, and championed the addition of a female presence in the training room. Although basketball was her first love, she was a strong and vocal supporter for the continued development of girls’ athletics at Tabor across the board and was a regular fan at competitions spanning all three athletic seasons. When she stepped down from coaching, Joan assumed the responsibilities of a head timer at both boys’ and girls’ varsity basketball games, a role in which she continued to serve for nearly thirty years until her retirement. Joan’s dedication to the Tabor girls’ basketball program was recognized at the end of the 1990-1991 season when the Joan V. Roller Award was created. Presented annually, the award recognizes “that player who demonstrates unselfish commitment and outstanding contribution to Tabor’s girls’ varsity basketball program.” In 2011, the newly refurbished varsity basketball court in Stone Gymnasium was named in honor of Joan and her husband, Richard, for their long-standing commitment to Tabor basketball. Joan’s forward thinking and high expectations during the early years of girls’ athletics at Tabor set the stage for the development of the tremendously successful girls’ athletic program for which Tabor is known today.