Joyner to Shine in Lawrence Hall of Fame

Monday, September 28, 2009

When Rubin Joyner ’73 walks into the room, it’s hard to ignore his infectious smile and positive attitude. Joyner, the director of Rider’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), might sit down with you for a chat, but don’t be surprised if he jumps out of his seat suddenly to point out an old photo of the Rider basketball team on his office wall or steer the conversation back to the EOP program. He moves with the same agility he showed not too long ago on the fields and courts at Lawrence High School, and later, Rider’s Alumni Gym.

More than 40 years after graduating from high school, Joyner’s three-sport athletics career will be recognized when he is inducted into Lawrence’s Athletic Hall of Fame during halftime of the high school’s home football game and then during a formal dinner at Mercer Oaks Golf Course on Saturday, October 24.

“It is an honor,” Joyner said of his recent recognition. The organizer told Joyner that he was selected, in part, because he was captain on the boys’ soccer, basketball and baseball teams. “He told me, ‘Rubin, no one has ever done that before – that is an accomplishment.’”

It’s not the first time his hard work has been recognized. In 1997, Joyner was one of 14 individuals inducted into the Lawrence High School Hall of Honor. More recently, Joyner received the Lambda Lambda Sigma Chapter’s Education Award during the Fourth Annual Platinum Dads/Men of Action Awards event.

One could say that Joyner’s career was locally grown. While he grew up in Lawrence, he attended Trenton Central High School because it was the only high school in the area at the time. During his sophomore year, Joyner tried out for the basketball team. At the age of 15, Joyner knew how hard it was to make the school’s team. So, he was both ecstatic and dismayed when the coach shared some news with him.

“He told me, ‘You made the team, but we can’t keep you,’” Joyner remembered. It was then that Rubin learned that he would be transferring to the newly established Lawrence High School.

“At Trenton, I would have had more exposure because the school played against the toughest teams in the state,” he said. “At Lawrence, we were trail blazers.”

Joyner remembers one game against Ewing High School when he scored 33 points. “In 1968, that number was unheard of – when you score 33 points in a single game, that’s another stratosphere,” said Joyner, who served as senior vice president, captain of the basketball team and co-captain of the soccer team. As the left wing striker on the soccer team, Joyner, and his teammates snatched the title as undefeated state champs in 1967.

After Joyner graduated from Lawrence High in 1968, he played basketball for Shaw University in North Carolina during his freshman year. However, Joyner decided to move home the following year and play basketball for the Rider Broncs.

“I had a great time at Rider. I played ball, I was able to get my degree, and I met my wife here,” Joyner said. As a student, Joyner was also involved in student government and majored in Secondary Education.

Joyner has mostly remained in the field of education. He taught for a year before he was a guidance counselor in East Windsor School District. Then he worked as a psychotherapist for the state. In 1989, he decided to return to the Rider team – this time to cheer from the sidelines for his alma mater.

Since then, Joyner’s high energy and passion for EOP, the state program, has allowed him to help many low-income students attend and successfully complete their studies at Rider.

In his current role, Joyner helps students sort through issues and maintain solid grades and lobby for state funding for the program. For the father of two, nothing is more gratifying than seeing his students graduate. Despite all the rewards from his athletic careers in high school and at Rider, he says helping students is the “most satisfying reward.”

Joyner can relate to the sense of the accomplishment among his students and the pride of their families. He was an EOP student, too.

“When you come from my kind of background – a big family, a father without a college degree, you never give up,” explained Joyner, who has served on a number of different posts at the University, including Athletics Golf Gala Committee, Alumni of Color Executive Committee, Regional and Affinity Chapter and the EOP Advisory Board.

His dedication and accomplishments at Trenton, Lawrence and Rider, show that he never has and never will give up.

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Rubin Joyner ’73, director of Rider’s Educational Opportunity Program