Life has emulated art for Joy Reynolds McCoy, Little League® Senior Vice President and Chief League Officer, who, like American poet Robert Frost described in his poem The Road Not Taken, chose the path less traveled.
Growing up in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Mrs. McCoy was among the first generation of girls playing Little League.
“I played Little League Baseball because girls were allowed to play,” said Mrs. McCoy. “I had no idea until I came to work at Little League what a historic moment it was that I played Little League Baseball in 1977. From my first season, there were girls on the team, which was a big deal as it was only the third season of girls being permitted to play Little League. For me, there was nothing unusual, or different, or controversial about girls playing on the baseball team.”
In 1977, Mrs. McCoy played her first baseball season with Hepburn-Lycoming (Pa.) Little League as a 10-year-old. Along with her younger brother, Johnny, and with father, John Reynolds, coaching, Mrs. McCoy played on the team with three other girls.
Two seasons later, the Reynolds family relocated, placing her inside the boundaries of nearby Old Lycoming (Pa.) Little League, which offered a softball program. An all-star in her 12-year-old softball season, Mrs. McCoy saw her Little League days as a competitive outlet but admits that just walking around the neighborhood wearing her uniform was just as special as playing in the games.
“I don’t have memories of specific game, but I do have memories of being at the baseball field,” said Mrs. McCoy. “The coolest time of the year was when the Hepburn Township carnival was going on. After the games, my teammates and I got to go over the carnival with our uniforms on … That was a pretty cool thing.”
Mrs. McCoy’s elementary school years set her on a path that has consistently guided her to seek out a leadership role. Whether in athletics, academics, or by way of individual professional benchmarks, personal achievement has come from a desire to set and accomplish goals.
“In the sixth grade, I wrote a report on what I wanted to be when I grew up,” said Mrs. McCoy. “I refused to pick something that all the girls did. I intentionally picked being a lawyer because it was not common for girls to want to be a lawyer. That decision had nothing to do with an interest in law or my family, but out of my desire to do something girls generally did not do. It stuck with me and that was the path I chose.”
The first member of her family to obtain a four-year college degree, Mrs. McCoy graduated Elmira (N.Y.) College in 1989, and four years later (1993) attained her law degree from the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law. Returning to Williamsport and working as an associate for the firm of McNerney, Page, Vanderlin, and Hall, she was mentored by Max Hall, whose focus was family law.
“I interned locally, and I was hired,” said Mrs. McCoy, who became a McNerney, Page, Vanderlin, and Hall partner in 1998. “Early on, I did a little bit of everything. I liked being in the court room. That was my favorite thing. The most frequent way into the court room was to handle family law.”
In November 2009, Mrs. McCoy was elected to a 10-year term in the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. She oversaw the Family Court Division, primarily presiding over cases involving custody, support, divorce, domestic violence, delinquency, and Children & Youth matters. She served as the Administrative Judge for Children and Youth; was the Administrative Judge for the Domestic Relations Office; and was the presiding Judge for the Lycoming County Juvenile Drug and Intensive Treatment Court.
“When I became a lawyer, there was a smaller percentage of girls becoming lawyers compared to boys,” said Mrs. McCoy. “On our bench, I was the second female to become a judge in our county. It definitely was a male-dominated career that I chose, but I did not let that stop me.”
Joining Little League International in January 2022 as the first female Chief Legal Officer, Mrs. McCoy is responsible for several senior staff responsibilities, including oversight of the organization’s legal functions, insurance operations, and risk management departments.
During the Little League Baseball® World Series, she is directly connected to the fan experience with her role assisting with coordination and management of the World Series stadium ushers and security. It is in that role that her years spent as a Little League player, and later as a Little League parent and local league board member, have influenced her understanding of how quintessentially unique the Little League experience is to families and the volunteers who support them.
“My kids (Collin and Abby) went through Hepburn-Lycoming Little League, my husband (Ed) was on the Board of Directors and coaching, and I was involved on the board, but I don’t think I truly understood the impact of volunteers until I got here,” said Mrs. McCoy. “The bottom line is that Little League is about people. Some of our closest family friends today we met through our kids playing Little League. Some of my kids’ friends today are people they grew up playing Little League with.”
Mrs. McCoy will broaden her Girls With Game experience in 2024, as she plans to attend the Little League Softball® World Series in Greenville, North Carolina, for the first time. She is excited to travel this latest path and “feel a different type of tournament atmosphere and energy that girls bring to the game.”
This is the first in a series of Little League International Staff Spotlights that will focus on the Women In Little League (WILL) as part of the overall Girls with Game 50 Celebration (LittleLeague.org/GWG50). The #GWG50 celebration is proudly supported by DICK’S Sporting Goods, a long-time Little League partner that is committed to creating opportunities for girls and women in sports and will be activating around key events and milestones this year.