Bill Bullcok

Bill Bullcok

With over 700 wins on the high school and college baseball diamond to his name, what William “Bull” Bullock looks back on are all the lives he has had an impact on, from parents, players at every level, and the multitude of youth league coaches, college coaches, high school coaches, and professional baseball coaches that played and/or coached for him.

“There are lessons learned in sports that are unique,” he said. “Character, integrity, work ethic, and the importance of good grades. In 52 years, I never had a baseball player not graduate. As an athletic director, overseeing one third of the student population, the GPA for my student athletes was over 3.0 for 21 years. I’m very proud of that. Not to mention we were selected by the Florida High School athletic Association as either the winner or the runner-up of the state championship for sportsmanship many times.”

That is a strong testament to the character, integrity, work ethic, and excellence of the programs under his leadership and all that he mentored.

Raised in Jacksonville, Bullock was the captain of the football, wrestling and baseball teams at what is now Westside High School, a school so packed with kids it was on triple sessions his senior year. Talented physically, Bullock had numerous chances to continue his career on the field.

“I had tryouts with both Kansas City and the Mets,” he said. “But I wasn’t good enough. And that’s okay.”

A nearby community college, however, wanted him for baseball. At the same time, the new school, Ed White High School opened, easing the strain at Westside. Many former Westside students – and some of the faculty – found themselves at the new school. In fact, the new athletic director was one of Bullock’s former high school coaches.

“He knew I was playing baseball at community college, so he asked me to coach the wrestling team,” he said. “My second year, we won the Gateway conference  championship – beating my own high school coach.”

Bullock continued coaching as he finished his first degree.

“I went back to my old school and worked for my old coach, and we took the title back ,” he said. “While earning a degree in physical education and numerous sciences.”

For his Masters degree, however, it was time for a change.

“I headed off to Columbia in New York City, Ivy League,” he said. “It was a big deal at the time to go from Jacksonville to Columbia at 23.”

And he quickly found familiar work.

“I was asked to coach a private high school girl’s basketball team,” he said. “It was a lot of fun. And different.”

After graduation, Bullock coached football, wrestling, and baseball at Jacksonville Ed White. An opening at Kathleen brought him to Polk County, where he coached baseball and football.

“We had a good team, but no pitching,” he said. “I had a kid in the outfield who could throw. He said no, at first, but I convinced him. We quickly became one of the best teams in the county, and that pitcher – Alan Mills – was the key.”

After two years, Bing Tyus brought him – and Mills – to Polk State.

“We had three successful seasons there,” said Bullock. “And Alan played 12 years of Major League Baseball.”

The demands of a young family, however, drove Bullock back to the high school level. He taught and coached football and baseball at Fort Meade for five years, then ran his own baseball school.

“I had a lot of parents begging me to coach their children,” he said. “And Lake Region opened up. I was there as the head baseball coach for 28 years, 21 years as the athletic director. Many of the kids who I coached are now coaching.”

But the life of an athletic director is never easy.

“If you have an opening, you have to fill it,” he said. “And its tough finding wrestling coaches. So I coached that, on and off, four times. Had a number of regional and State qualifiers, and we did great in baseball too.”

Bullock is most proud of raising enough funds for the state-of-the-art baseball facility built at Lake Region. He ran tournaments for 25 years, including the July 4th Firecracker on his birthday, and numerous other tournaments throughout the year.  He is very thankful for all the parent support that helped run all of those.

“Tournaments want to use it all the time, and we built it strictly with donations,” he said. “For most kids, that’s the nicest – and perhaps the last – field they’ll play on. So you want it to be great.”

Today, he’s still coaching – Team Bullock. Daughter Karen and husband Don Russell have raised a young man, Chase, htaking after their grandfather, taking part in football, wrestling and baseball. Son Beau and his wife Rachel have three children, Brooks, Wiley and Vivian, while Ben and Robin’s son Joey played baseball for the coach. Scott and Nadine also have a child, Bethany.

“My youngest grandkids are into soccer,” he said. “So I’m learning more about that. More importantly, they all do well in school.”

When asked about his biggest achievement, Bullock doesn’t hesitate.

“I’ve had so many young men who played for me, or coached with me, who have gone on to be great coaches, great fathers, doctors, lawyers or any endeavor,” he said. “And they instill the same types of values. After 52 years, that’s a lot of people for one man’s life to influence.”

He gives God all the credit for calling him to coach and serve.