This Sunday the Owls will take the field wearing light blue shirts and sporting matching wrist bands in an effort to bring awareness to the fight and recovery of Danni Kemp.
John Stratton begins his seventh season as an assistant coach at Florida Atlantic University. He brings to the program decades of experience at every level of the game.
His presence on the coaching staff continues a friendship and working relationship with Coach Joyce that began more than 40 years ago. Stratton has known Joyce since the time that both were players, and he also coached her. In addition, the two are linked by John's wife, Mickey, a Hall of Fame catcher and battery-mate of Joyce with the Stratford (Conn.) Brakettes.
Stratton plays an instrumental role in FAU's success. The team has averaged 50 wins in his six seasons as an assistant and has won five A-Sun championships. Stratton has also helped Joyce lead the team to NCAA Tournament appearances five times.
With virtually unmatched experience in developing pitchers, Stratton has helped to guide a staff that has posted a suffocating 1.46 ERA over the past six seasons. The staff's combined ERA in 2001 and 2002 was 0.91. Under Stratton, Nikki Myers was named a Second-Team All-American twice and A-Sun Player of the Year three times. In 2004 Candice Freel was named A-Sun Pitcher of the Year.
His coaching experience includes working with numerous Olympians and other top players in the world. Pitchers Lisa Fernandez, Lori Harrigan and Danielle Henderson have all been under Stratton's tutelage, as has Cat Osterman, the reigning USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. Stratton also counts all-world shortstop Dottie Richardson among his pupils.
In total, Stratton has coached 20 members of the ASA Hall of Fame, more than 20 past and present U.S. National Team players, and eight Olympians. Additionally, more than 100 players that he has worked with in the past have gone on to coach Division I softball.
Stratton has guided 15 teams to major women's national championships, many coming with Joyce in the circle. He has coached five Olympic Festival championship teams and guided the Brakettes to three World Championships. Stratton was with the Brakettes when they won eight consecutive National Championships from 1971-78.
For over five decades Stratton has held clinics all over the United States and Europe and has produced several pitching manuals, drill books and videos.
From 1965-71 he was a coach with the Raybestos Robins. In 1971 he became a coach for the Brakettes, where he stayed until 1982. He returned to the Brakettes in 1990 for another six-year stint. Stratton was appointed manager in 1996 and still serves in that role.
As a player for the Raybestos Brakeliners, Stratton played infield and pitched for nearly a decade. He is a member of the Connecticut Softball Hall of Fame and the Connecticut High School Softball Hall of Fame. Stratton retired as a school teacher in 1998 after 35 years.
He and his wife live in Pompano Beach during the winter and return to Connecticut to coach the Brakettes in the summer.