One mile past the Rabbittown Cafe, hidden behind a brush of trees, lies Anuel Burce’s safe haven. Burce, East Hall’s newly appointed head softball coach, digs into the red softball dirt covering the Lady Vikings’ softball field. He knows his life is destined for service.
“He is so devoted to the East Hall community,” Jessica Burce, Anuel’s wife, said. “We joke at the house that he bleeds black and gold. I’m assuming that if you cut him, that’s the color he bleeds.”
On March 29, East Hall athletic director Adam Rich announced Burce as the school's new head softball coach.
Burce graduated from East Hall in 1994 and, soon after, married Jessica, his high school sweetheart. Working at Coca-Cola was his next stop as Jessica completed her college degree. The job was only temporary, though, and Burce waited patiently for eight years until Jessica was settled in her career to pursue his calling.
“I knew it was going to be in service of something,” he said.
After a long deliberation between teaching and policing, he felt called to the fire fighting industry and emergency medical services (EMS).
“I just fell in love with it,” Burce said. “I’m a bit of a thrill seeker. Being a fire firefighter, not everybody thinks it’s all fun, but for some reason I love going into burning houses. I love being able to help people. That led to the EMS side of it. We needed paramedics in the community, so I decided I would give it a shot. I was already working on the ambulance, so why not? We needed them.”
Then his family came calling. As they grew older, Anuel and Jessica’s three daughters desired more time with their father. He began teaching full time at East Hall middle school and assisting the softball team.
There, the mission became obvious: the team needed a steward of the game, and Burce believes it’s his obligation to be that leader.
“We go outside of just softball,” Burce said. “I constantly talk to the girls about the decision they make out in the classroom and in life. I make sure they know they can always come to me with anything. I make it a priority to not only worry about what they’re doing on our softball field, but also watch the ones who play in travel ball.”
Burce plans on incorporating a new softball culture into his East Hall squad. He referenced the energy of Florida State, the defending NCAA national champion. Throughout the televised tournament, softball fans across the country were in awe of the Seminoles constant enthusiasm from the dugout. Their smiles never faded once on the field.
“That kind of atmosphere we want — we want that community, family,” Burce said. “One thing that I preach to the girls: No matter if you’re winning, everyone is always happy anyway. But if you’re losing, no one should know. They should know that you’re pushing. You’re not going to quit. No matter how many runs you are down, you’re going to fight until the end. And you’re not going to defeat me mentally. You can find a way to win and find something good out of what’s happening differently on the field.”
Being a servant to the community comes in different forms and Burce has trialed many. He will continue the emergency service practice part time while head coaching the Vikings to victories across life’s many landscapes, helping to make their personal lives as healthy as their athletic careers.
“I know it’s a lot of pressure for people to coach for their community where they grew up, but I plan on staying and hopefully end my career here.”
One mile past Rabbittown Cafe.