ALMOST a decade after the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, Brendan Joyce's brother found a letter from their mum in an old biscuit tin in her house after she had died.
There was no reason for why she had never sent it to Joyce and she had never mentioned it.
Joyce read how his mum had sat up late at night, writing the letter while watching the Olympic opening ceremony, seeing him march with the Australian team and remembering his determination in playing the game he loved so much as a junior.
It was Joyce's first Olympic experience, an assistant coach for the Boomers alongside long-time Brian Goorjian - still coaching the Boomers in Tokyo. Both had launched their coaching careers with Ballarat Miners.
Marching out in that same opening ceremony, Goorjian turned to Joyce and said 'I think I can hear your wife'. Up in the crowd, among 100,000 roaring people, they saw her cheering his name.
The Olympics is about family and all those who support you.Brendan Joyce
"The Olympics is about family and all those who support you," Joyce said.
"I have an Olympic experience now with my mother and how proud she felt watching us on TV, and I have an Olympic memory of my wife, who had been through it all.
"Eight or nine years later finding those letters means so much."
Joyce returned to coach NBL1 club Ballarat Miners three years ago, back at the helm of where he started his coaching career in 1994, leading the Miners to two South East Australian Basketball League championships within three years.
He took up his first National Basketball League coaching appointment with Wollongong Hawks in 1996 and joined the Boomers as an assistant from 2001. With Goorjian as head coach, Joyce was an assistant for the Boomers at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games.
Joyce was head coach of the Australian Opals in the 2016 Rio Games.
The Opals were ranked world number two, they won their five pool matches and were knocked out by one-point in a loss to a Serbian team that had scraped through the preliminary stage.
"It's only one loss in the Olympics, but the criticism that comes with it was unbelievable," Joyce said.
"When I took over, the Opals were in a rebuilding phase. We had seven debutants that Olympics...A lot goes on before the Olympics. You're travelling around the world and are constantly putting players in tough situations.
"...As a coach you're working a lot but you get a lot of joy watching athletes grow."
A lot goes on before the Olympics. You're travelling around the world and are constantly putting players in tough situations...As a coach you're working a lot but you get a lot of joy watching athletes grow.Brendan Joyce
Two years earlier, Joyce had led the Opals to world championship bronze in Turkey, a campaign missing injured stars Liz Cambage and Lauren Jackson.
In his time with the Opals, Joyce was also Australia's high performance coach for women. A key part of this was talent identification and development of players such as Ezi Magbegor and Alanna Smith, who are both in their Olympic debuts with the Opals in Tokyo.
Patty Mills made his Olympic debut for the Boomers in Beijing with Joyce as assistant coach. Mills is now a key experienced player in the Boomers' campaign and carried the Australian flag alongside swimmer Cate Campbell in the Tokyo Opening Ceremony.
"There's a role you play in getting players to where you want them to be and maintaining depth and consistency in the squad," Joyce said.
"You think about the journey to the Olympics and the processes and what you're trying to do and it comes back to every tournament."
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.