Clayton Joyner, a beloved Annandale Campus physical education adjunct professor, passed away on May 5 after suffering a massive heart attack on April 22, one month shy of his 30th birthday. Joyner taught volleyball, soccer and badminton classes at NOVA.
The evening following his death, more than 200 people attended an impromptu candlelight vigil to honor his memory at Holmes Run Acres Pool where he was the coach for 11 years. On May 17, more than 700 people attended his memorial service at Saint Phillips Catholic Church and celebrated his life at the Holmes Run Pool afterward.
Joyner was very active organizing and participating in recreational sports teams and individual competitive events such as triathlons. He was the coach and manager of Victory Lane Aquatics Club which he established in 2008 and quickly grew to more than 100 year round swimmers competing at the national level.
Joyner had been the head coach of Falls Church High School’s (FCHS) Swim and Dive team for the last four years and his 2013 team broke 21 of the 24 school records including some he personally set in 2002. The 2013 FCHS boys’ team finished fourth in the state, the highest the relatively small high school has ever finished. While Robinson High School’s Swim and Dive team head coach, the 2010 girls’ team won the state championship.
Joyner earned his bachelor’s degree in 2008 from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in interdisciplinary studies with subspecialty in entrepreneurship and sports event planning. He earned his master’s degree in 2010 from Georgetown University in sports industry management. While in college, he organized VCU’s first club swim team and he led the fundraising efforts to support a strong schedule with other university club teams.
He grew up in an academic family. His mother, Dr. Nancy D. Joyner, is dean and executive director of the Lutheran College Washington Semester, and his late father, Dr. Christopher C. Joyner, was a professor of international law at Georgetown University and director of Georgetown’s Institute for Law, Science and Global Security. His sister Kristin Joyner McLellan of Winter Park, Fla., is an elementary school teacher.
“Coach CJ,” as his swimmers called him, grew up across Route 236 from the Annandale Campus. Joyner’s enthusiasm, “you can do it” encouragement and “live the dream” attitude will be greatly missed by the NOVA students, faculty and staff who knew him.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Falls Church High School Athletic Boosters, c/o Joyner Scholarship, 7521 Jaguar Trail, Falls Church, VA 22042.