BOISE — Joleen Toone felt like an Academy Award winner when she stepped up to the podium Wednesday night at the Boise Centre.
In this metaphor, Toone was a film legend. And on this night, she received a lifetime achievement award.
Toone was inducted into the Idaho High School Activities Association hall of fame this year, and she was awarded a plaque at the 38th annual hall of fame banquet Wednesday night. The former Gooding High School athletic director joined Launa Moser and Gary Ward in this year’s hall of fame class.
“You work your whole life, you get a paycheck and you don’t expect anything. All of the sudden, you get this great honor,” Toone told the Times-News on Friday. “It almost brought tears to my eyes.”
Toone, 67, has been retired since 2009, although it doesn’t always appear that way. She referees middle school volleyball games. She operates the scoreboard at Gooding boys and girls basketball games. She lines up the line judges at CSI volleyball games.
If Toone isn’t working at a game, she’s still likely to attend one. She goes to four or fives games a week during the school year.
“You can find me at a Twin Falls girls basketball game, and I won’t know anybody playing,” she said. “I’m pretty busy, but I love watching kids. I would do everything for a kid.”
Toone graduated from Gooding in 1968, and she was in the University of Idaho’s class of 1972. She spent the next four years in Buhl, where she taught elementary school PE and coached high school volleyball, basketball and track.
In 1976, she returned to Gooding, where she taught PE and coached the same sports she coached at Buhl. Toone remained at Gooding High School for 33 years, up until she retired.
Toone stopped coaching basketball after 13 years, but she stuck with volleyball for 30 years and track her entire tenure at Gooding. In 1991, she took over as the athletic director, a position she held the final 18 years of her career.
Toone continued to coach two sports and teach PE while she was the AD. She didn’t have a secretary, and she often stayed at school until midnight.
“I had my daughter in ‘87. Thank goodness my husband could take care of her so I could do everything I did,” Toone said with a laugh.
If she wanted a smaller workload, she could have easily taken it. She barely considered it.
Toone was flummoxed when she received the hall of fame news in November.
“It’s quite an honor, and I didn’t realize it was as big of an honor as it was until I started learning more about it,” she said.
The odds of making the IDHSAA hall of fame were already slim, and that’s exponentially true for women. Of the 140-plus people in the hall, she said, only 18 are women (16 before Toone and Moser).
Toone understands why the disparity is so large. Most state-sanctioned girls sports were added to Idaho high schools long after their male counterparts, and boys sports still outnumber girls nine to eight.
That history and exclusivity made Wednesday night extra special for Toone.
Every other year, Toone and a group of friends take a trip to Europe. When she’s not abroad, she likes to camp, fish, golf and ski (water and snow).
The hall-of-famer is still wrapped up in youth sports, but those duties don’t swamp her, especially compared to pre-2009.
“Living the dream every day,” she said.