After 16 seasons, two state championships and being named the Northwest National Federation of High Schools Coach of the Year, Joy Lease can now say she has won 300 games as a basketball coach.
With a 53-37 victory against Cascade Christian Monday, the nine-year head coach at Mazama has won No. 300.
“I did not even know I was so close until after the game Saturday. I have just been lucky to have really great players at different schools,” Lease said. “I started coaching my first year right after college. I did not think I would get to 300 wins, honestly.”
Lease started her head coaching year at Willamina High School.
After a 3-20 record to start, she wished she would have been anywhere else, but she did not want to do anything else.
“I remember my first season. I do not know if I remember my first game, but it was rough and we won three games the whole year,” Lease said. “It was probably not a win … I am sure it was not a win.”
Husband and Mazama athletic director, Vic Lease, has tracked her victories since her first game.
It was the same year the couple met and began dating.
For the accomplishment, Joy Lease’s parents were present, along with oldest daughter, Amber.
Lease’s next two daughters, Maddy and Kennedy, were on the floor against the Challengers. Maddy Lease led the Vikings in scoring with 17 points, while her younger sister scored six.
After a 16-4 advantage after the first quarter, Mazama did not relent.
Lease shared a hug with Amber after the game, who gave her flowers and a plaque of her accomplishment. Vic Lease made sure to secure the game ball.
“Having Amber (a college basketball player in Canada) be here meant a lot. It has struck me how significant this season is. This will be the last time I have two kids on the team together,” Lease said. “Having this happen this year, with that scenario, it could not have worked out better.”
During her 16 years, only four of her team’s have not made a state tournament.
Until last season, Lease’s teams at Mazama have made the semifinals.
“It does not surprise me she has won 300 games because she is that great of a coach. I am surprised she does not have more,” current OIT women’s basketball and former Viking Megan Morris said. “I remember when I first met her in eighth grade during an assembly and I was immature and she probably thought: ‘We have a wild one on our hands’.
“The next year, her first year as coach, she remembered who I was.”
Along with Morris, former player Hannah Reynolds has also been a player Lease said she has kept close.
The two sat next to each other to watch Morris play this past Saturday during the Hustlin’ Owls victory against Northwest University.
Lease is currently 300-117 overall. Her 200th victory coincidentally came when Mazama won its first girls basketball state championship in 2013.
“The big picture for me is, I have memories from every season, regardless of success. I tell the kids all the time, this is not my team, it is their team. My career is over. I had my chance,” Lease said. “Every kid who has come through has meant something to me.”
As for victory 400, Lease remains uncertain.
“I told them today, this might be the last milestone. I do not know. We will have to see. I am definitely here until Kennedy graduates, or if I do not get fired. We will have to see after that, but I do not know.”