GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — From her Grand Rapids basement, 55-year-old Eileen Bockheim is getting ready for a new stage of her life in sports.
“The competitions I’m throwing in are really just part of the journey,” says Bockheim.
That journey started early, a baby picture proves. It shows Bockheim ready to throw an object which easily could be mistaken for a shot put.
It’s fitting since Bockheim held the school record at Forest Hills Central High School for 35 years.
“Sports was just a constant part of my life,” says Bockheim.
Music also has always been a part of her life. After high school, Bockheim earned a degree in organ performance and literature and poured her energy into her profession.
Bockheim has been the director of music ministry at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Grand Rapids for 27 years.
“More than the music, I love the people,” said Bockheim. “I love my choir members.”
But about seven years ago, it changed.
“I pretty much became inactive. I spent hours and hours in a practice room,” said Bockheim. “Just stress and family and not eating properly. I really became in a bad place.”
Bockheim weighed more than 300 pounds. Worse than that, she became a spectator to activities she and her daughter, Anna, once shared together.
“It was very lonely. I would get very deeply inside angry,” said Bockheim. “I hated myself. Inside I was just dying.”
That’s when Bockheim had what she calls a “God moment.” The fading memories of times spent with her daughter far outweighed the number on her scale.
“It was awful. But it was just like a switch was turned,” said Bockheim. “There’s no looking back.”
Bockheim committed herself to a better lifestyle that included healthier choices and exercise. She has lost well over 100 pounds. Along the journey, she rediscovered the sports she loved so much in her youth.
“Early on, I would just kind of stand here and get my form,” sid Bockheim, standing in the middle of a makeshift throwing ring she built in her basement to train in the winter.
Bockheim has done so well in competitions that she’s set to compete in the National Senior Games in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She’ll throw shot put and discus.
“I don’t just want to go and just get a participation ribbon,” said Bockheim.
But for Bockheim, a medal matters far less than the opportunity to make more memories with Anna, who is traveling with Bockheim when she competes.
“Hiking, and we’re going to kayaking, and we’re going to do all kinds of activities. That’s what’s important,” Bockheim said.