Monday, January 27, 2014

In loving memory – Bruce Assily (1977 – 2014)

***(2/4/2014 at 2:09 pm) An update on the services for Bruce Assily.  Bruce's family has requested that flowers or any other items to be sent to Bruce's family home in Honolulu.  I apologize if you have made prior arrangements to send flowers to the service but I didn't receive this information until recently.

Assily Family
868 Ahukini St
Honolulu, HI 96825

Marina Florists are located within a short drive to the Assily family address:  (808) 394-5555 ‎ ·

#8 Bruce Assily left us all too soon at the age of 36. A gentle man but a fierce warrior.
This past Friday former Linfield Stand-Out Defense End, Michael Bruce Assily (1996-1999) passed away on Friday, January 24th at the age of 36 in a diving accident off Kaimana Beach in Waikiki.  Apparently Bruce was free diving for fish with a friend at 5 a.m. in preparations of last week’s Pro-Bowl and ran into trouble. Bruce’s friend was able to get him back to the beach after Bruce was in prolonged distress.  Police and medical professionals were on the scene and transported Bruce to a hospital but they were unable to revive him. 

I couldn’t believe this when I first read that one of the best people I’ve ever met was taken from this world way too soon.  This hits so hard for everyone that knows and loves Bruce.  He was a wonderful and joyful man that loved life and could always bring a smile to your face no matter how bad of a day you might be having.  I had the honor of playing side-by-side with Bruce for three seasons (1996-98) at Linfield as Bruce would man that Anchor defensive end position (tight end/heavy side) while he allowed my then skinny self to play on the non-tight end side of the formation.  Bruce was such an incredible football player.  So explosive physically and had an innate understanding for the flow of the game.  He knew when to gamble (“Oh slash, coach?”) and he had the ability to disrupt a play with brute force or could beat you with athleticism.....or do both on the same play.  He was a special football player and it was an honor to play next to him for those 3 years. 

(Do yourself a favor and watch the highlight above...Bruce was a gifted football player)

However, Bruce was more than just a football player.  Bruce Assily was a wonderful man who had a deep love of his friends and family.  He never had to try to make people like him.  His fellow teammates, classmates, coaches, and adults would gravitate to him, his huge smile, and outgoing personality.  He made making friends look like the easiest thing in the world.  

My fondest memories of Bruce was the summer of 1998 when Bruce and I worked for Coach Suan at the HHPA facilities.  Coach Suan put us to work painting, pressure washing tennis courts, handing out towels, monitoring the weight room (i.e. working out while a few profs would be on the cardio equipment), mowing, and doing all sorts of odd jobs.  Bruce and I were both flat broke that summer but it was a wonderful time hanging out with Bruce.  He would make fun of my music taste, talk about life, tell jokes (my jokes were never as good as his), he would constantly try to get me to go to church and I would avoid it at all costs (he never gave up on me), joke about who the better defensive end was (Bruce would say it was me and I would say it was him….we both knew it was him), and he would sing his 7-11 Slurpee song while we walked over the 7-11 together.  He made such a positive impact on my life during Linfield and he someone that I will always cherish.  I haven’t seen Bruce in many years but my feelings about Bruce have never changed.  Being friends with Bruce made me a better person.  He showed me how to live life better and I feel a deep sorrow for his family and friends back home that won’t have more time with him.   Rest in Peace my friend…I will never forget you.  STRONGEST LINK! –RC

Below is a letter from Coach Smith regarding Bruce.  During Bruce’s time at Linfield, Coach Smith was the program’s defensive line coach and coached Bruce directly during his time as a Linfield Wildcat.  Coach Smith dealt with some characters during that time (Mitch, Barry, Harter, Jesse Smith, Wild Bill, Dirty, Jesse Allen, Alvarez, Wigs, myself, etc.) but Bruce was the biggest character of them all.  But Bruce and Coach Smith had a close relationship.  For all the joking around, Bruce was a tough competitor and he loved playing for Coach Smith.  Coach Smith could always read our group perfectly and he knew the strength of our defensive line was built upon what #8 could do.  


The world is a better place because of Bruce Assilly.  We lost a remarkable man with his passing.   I have never met a bigger personality than Bruce.   Few people can literally fill a room with energy and spirit by themselves.    Bruce Assilly could.   When Bruce touched foot into a building, you knew he had arrived.   You could hear him a mile away with that infectious laugh that he would double over and bubble forth with.   His joy and lust for life infected, and affected, everyone around him.    

Bruce never shut his mouth, he was always talking; and he was flat out hilarious.     One engaged in banter with him at one’s peril, as not only was he incredibly witty, he was relentless.     Even while he was learning to play racquetball, he would lose point wise, but you would come out of the game feeling like Bruce had won.   Bruce was like that, he would talk so much trash, and do it in such a funny positive way, and he could spin anything to his advantage.   We all loved that about Bruce.   His spirit lifted you up.

Bruce was the fastest learner and the most talented football player I have ever coached.  There was nothing he could not do it seemed.   He was a true force of nature on the field, but it was off the field that I will always cherish the most about Bruce.  Before too long, he was one of the best racquetball players on campus.    Things came easy to him physically.   He walked by the wt. room one day, and asked what guys were doing with the bars.  I told him they were doing power cleans.  He asked, “are those hard?   Let me try.”   The guys were maxing and had 275 lbs on.   Bruce walked over and before I could say not too, he tried reverse curling the bar up.   He couldn’t quite do it, and while the guys chuckled around him, he quickly tried again.   With a little more oomph, he completed a 275 hang clean on his first real try.    That was Bruce.

Bruce struggled his freshman year at Linfield.   He made poor choices and really struggled focusing on his class work.   We began to meet weekly and try to get things turned around for him.   He met with Doug Hire several times and I know Doug was a strong mentor for Bruce.    Bruce decided to change his life around at Linfield when he and two close friends began to attend the Potter’s House.   Bruce did a 180 degree turn in his life and began to thrive.   As his faith grew, everything around Bruce seemed to blossom; he was like that.  People flocked to him, and he loved it.

When our daughter was born Bruce came to our house and extemporaneously made up a song about Little Josie and serenaded her on his ukulele.   I can still hear him singing that song in our hallway.   One summer Bruce was did concrete work in our backyard, and he would borrow Nick Forsey’s car, probably without asking, and drive it over.    The backyard was all uneven loose dirt, but Bruce had to have his music, so he would drive Nick’s low rider out back to get close to where he was working.   I warned him to watch where he was driving as he would get it stuck.  His answer was always “c’mon coach!”  (I am not certain Bruce even had a license)  When he inevitably got it high centered, he worked like a dog trying to dig that car out by himself.   Bruce would never ask for help, if he knew it was his deal to fix.   He was a prankster and a trickster at times, but there was one hell of man under that smiling face.   

He played right away for us.   He was so darn talented he could not be kept off the field.  The defensive front he anchored down will always be a special group to me.   Assilly and Carlson on the edge, and Chadwick, Smith, and Harter on the inside was our own version of the “fearsome foursome” and they were the rock of our program through some rough years at Linfield.    Bruce helped form a foundation that the success of the 2000’s was built upon.

Bruce could sing, Bruce could dance, and Bruce could Hit.    He was a tremendously loyal, and someone that was your friend at first meeting.   No one ever seemed to say a bad word about him, and I know even his opponents must have shared a begrudging admiration for him.   It was truly a privilege and honor to coach Bruce and consider him a close friend.  

-Coach Smith

1 comment:

djamal said...

Carlson, Thanks for putting this together... It is great to remember Bruce, and have you articulate how we all felt about him. Hopefully we can recognize him in an appropriate way in the Fall...