Coach Joel McDuffey ended his life on March 29, 2022, at the age of 37. Joel was born in Gravette, Arkansas on January 3rd, 1985, and had resided in Poplar Bluff, Missouri since 2019. He is survived by his father Steve, mother Sharon, and three sisters Jackie, Julie, and Rachael; in addition to countless friends, colleagues, mentors, students, and athletes whom he considered an extended family.
Joel earned a Bachelors in K-12 Education at MSSU and a Masters of Athletics/Activities Administration at William Woods University. Joel, a mentor at his core, coached and taught at various Missouri schools and volunteered his time and skills for numerous sports programs throughout the years.
Joel initially served as assistant coach for Poplar Bluff Senior High School varsity softball and baseball, varsity boys basketball, and taught health class. At Poplar Bluff Jr. High Joel served as assistant boys basketball coach. In his second year at Poplar Bluff, as head softball coach, he led his athletes to win a district title; the fifth since 2005. In his first year as Sheldon High school head coach, Joel inspired another district title win for boys varsity basketball; the school’s first ever.
Joel also coached girls varsity basketball at McDonald County High School, his own alma mater; varsity boys and girls basketball at Northeast Vernon County, head varsity softball and assistant varsity baseball at NEVC, jr. high and senior high track, and taught K-12 physical education at NEVC.
Joel’s aspirational vision was to coach at the college basketball level. His life’s central focus was coaching and mentoring; not for the love of the sport alone, but for the cultivation of the character of young people towards their greater potential and the impact on the community as a whole. His vision was for improving players and people, building a culture of cohesion and harmony through sports, and instilling values and a legacy of integrity into the generations of our future society. He was a natural leader and coaching was his gift to the world.
An in-person Celebration of Life service will be held at a yet TBD date. Please sign-up with your contact information at the link below to be notified of future event details.
In lieu of a traditional memorial visitation and service, there will be an online tribute page to honor Coach Joel’s memory. Please join us there and add your pictures and messages to his tribute page.