HEAD SOFTBALL COACH
You never know when opportunity will knock. For Fred Gillum, Tusculum's Head Softball Coach, the knock came at Sue Bennett College.
Fred was already serving as the offensive coordinator (OC) for Football and as the Sports Information Director for the school's 12 sports when he was asked to take over the softball program because the coach never returned to school. Fred says he soon discovered why the previous coach abandoned the program: there were only four returning players. He says he had to appeal to women's basketball players, cheerleaders and tennis players just to field a team that first year. During a mercifully rainy season, the team went 0-15. And then the turn-around began.
The next season, the team posted a 17-31 record, and Fred Gillum was voted the Coach of the Year in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Conference. This upward trend followed Fred during his tenures at Kentucky Wesleyan, Mars Hill and Stephen F. Austin. In fact, prior to Fred's arrival at Mars Hill College, the softball program had never won more than 12 games in a season. During his three seasons there, the win totals were 15, 21 and 25 respectively.
Fred Gillum's calling card is that when he arrives at a school with a struggling program, he takes them to a new level of respectability. That has held true during his first season as Tusculum's coach, where the softball team jumped out to its best start since becoming a NCAA Division II school.
The team's start is all the more impressive when you realize that the Lady Pioneers were picked by almost everyone to finish last in the SAC in a preseason poll. Fred says he is still implementing his system, but so far the team has responded. He says that each member of the team "works their butts off, are early to practice and have a genuine competitve desire."
When asked why an offensive coordinator for the football team was even asked to coach softball, Fred says it was because of his slow-pitch experience. Fred played 17 seasons in Men's Major softball. Men's Major softball often has a grueling schedule. At times, Fred played between 100 to 150 games per year. He also made appearances in seven world tournaments and played with ex-major leaguers, such as Doug Flynn from the Cincinnati Reds.
FAVORITE QUOTE: "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten."
MOVIES: Coach Gillum was an extra in the Civil War movies "Gettysburg" and "Gods & Generals." He stayed on location and camped like the soldiers of the era.
BOOKS: Coach Gillum is a history buff, and is particularly interested in the Civil War. He says he'd recommend Shelby Foote's "The Civil War: A Narrative" trilogy. He is also reading "Creative Coaching" by Jerry Lynch.