Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.
Bruce Gilliam of Lubbock knows a thing or two about playing ball-specifically men’s softball. Not only did he play ball for many years, but the men’s Over 50/Senior Tournament Team that he now coaches-Team LBK, just last month participated in the invitation only Tournament of Champions in Florida. Before an invitation can be extended to this tournament, a team must have also won a tournament in the U.S. Team LBK-with the LBK being a nod to their hometown of Lubbock, TX, won the state tournament in Grapevine, TX in August 2020, and came in second place in a tournament in Phoenix, AZ just before Thanksgiving 2020.
Bruce, a younger “senior” at age 57, was diagnosed with ALS in July 2019. Being the youngest of seven children, he has always been a scrappy fighter and not one to let life’s curveballs keep him down. “I used to be very competitive playing ball, and once I couldn’t play anymore they asked me to coach.”
He adds that he has known some of the players on his team for a very long time, and that when they were younger, they qualified to the World Series in Florida three times. During games, Bruce takes his scooter on the field just outside the dugout and the umpires let him park there to keep score, coach, and discuss game rules. He added that most umpires also ask a player to stand in front of him to help protect Bruce from both hit and thrown balls. In January 2021, Team LBK took home a second-place trophy.
“I did not want to give up softball, and yet it is a JOB coaching-organizing and setting up tournaments.” Even thought it is a lot of work, Bruce is no stranger to that concept. “I’ve always been a Go, go, go! person.” Bruce added that one of his former managers that he has kept in touch with has said that Bruce is “the hardest working man I’ve ever known.” Before retiring, Bruce was the manager of an appliance parts supply store and fixed appliances after hours. He still enjoys working on those appliances when he is able to do so- “dryers are easier because they are lighter,” and his wife (Raquel) can help lift them if needed. Bruce has lost some grip and strength in his right hand that has forced him to learn to use his left hand a lot more.
Sometimes the only thing that is fair in life is the ball hit between first and third.
In addition to his passion for softball and repairing the things that he can-Bruce loves his rescued pup, Mia, restoring vintage cars, and he is also an avid sportsman who enjoys fishing and bird hunting.
Bruce and his wife, Raquel, have a blended family of four grown children, and six grandchildren. Raquel is still working full-time in banking industry, and Bruce-well, you’ve gotten a glimpse in to his life and how he is making every day count. This is one of the reasons that Bruce Gilliam was the first feature in our new ALS Texas “One Day….” Series. Watch his interview on Facebook!
The “One Day….” series helps remind all of us to slow down and stop looking forward to or preparing for the next thing, and to instead enjoy what we have right in front of us-to making these moments count. Sometimes that might mean to make them meaningful, sometimes it might mean to make them memorable-and we want to help make that happen.
Do you have a memorable moment to share? We want to hear about it! Send your “One Day…” stories to Tonya. Our lives tell a story of the journey of our days. One Day can be full of thousands of moments, and every day… is a gift; don’t send it back unopened. One Day…there will be a cure for ALS.