Division I Diatribes Vol.9-Thank You, Richie Bruister

Let me be forward with this one. When the 2022 softball season started, I had no idea what was going on and not going on. All I knew is that one day I woke up and got a text that Richie Bruister, the Man who had built our softball program from the ground up, was no longer the head coach. I had no idea why. I had nobody telling me if there was even a reason, all I knew is that he was no longer head coach. Talk about a head scratcher.

In the past few months, I have had a lot of information thrown at me regarding what happened. It was really a shame that there was not a single source of reliable information that could tell me all of the ifs ands, and buts about what going on. You had a lot of people with personal agendas telling me conflicting stories or just repeating what things might have been done and said. It was also a shame that Coach Bruister did not get to finish this season, a season in which the Lion Softball team finally got to lift a Conference Tournament Championship trophy. Assistant Coach Gay McNutt did a commendable job in the position she was put in, and we are to thank her for that and owe her quite a bit. I am not going to get into the rumors because I have nothing solid to stand on, and that is not what this is about.

Laying all the he said and she saids aside, I do know this. Richie Bruister is one of the best things to have EVER happened to Texas A&M-Commerce Athletics. When he was hired in 2014, he had to build a program from the ground up, and much like his former colleague Neil Piper, he took an empty parking lot and demolished set of old dorms and the school placed the award winning John Cain Complex there, and from there, he took the Lion Softball team from upstart into one of the best in the nation in just 7 years. Their first season was the best first season in the history of modern Division II programs. 231 wins and 4 appearances in the NCAA Division II National tournament, to go along with a program that was squeaky clean, had a high team GPA, players that were recognized for everything on and off the field, and everything you could ask for in a Coach.

When I wrote my diatribe on Neil Piper, He will go into the Lion Athletic Hall of Fame one day, and Richie Bruister will too. If not, something is very wrong. I do not know about why things turned out the way they did. All I know this. He is now the head coach at Stephen F. Austin State, something he earned. He is one of the best to have ever done it at any level.

He was a dedicated coach and mentor.

His players loved him, as did the community.

He ran a clean program.

His players were true student athletes.

He Won. A lot.

He will ALWAYS BE the original Head Lion Softball coach.

And those things I listed above folks, those are not here say or rumors.

As Sergeant Joe Friday said; “Those are just the facts.”

Thank you for 7 great years Richie Bruister.

Best of Luck down in Piney Woods of Deep East Texas.

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