By Sam Laskaris

Though it originated in the United States, Black History Month is now also an annual celebration in Canada. The annual observance celebrates and recognizes the numerous achievements of Black people. Throughout February, various former and current members of the Brooklin Lacrosse Club organization who are Black will be profiled.

Today’s story is on TERRY BULLEN.

Though he grew up and still lives in Orillia, Bullen still has fond memories of his Durham Region lacrosse days. Bullen, who is now 57 and a retired school teacher, managed to win championships with both the Whitby Warriors Junior A team and the then named Brooklin Redmen.

“The quality of coaches I had in Brooklin and Whitby was just fantastic,” said Bullen, mentioning the likes of Peter Vipond and Elmer Tran. Bullen took up the sport at age six and started playing in the Orillia Minor Lacrosse Association. He was drafted by the Warriors in 1983 and a year later he helped the Junior A squad capture a Minto Cup.

Bullen also was a member of the Brooklin teams that won the Mann Cup in 1988 and 1990. And in the pro ranks, Bullen won two National Lacrosse League championships during the three seasons he spent as a member of the Toronto Rock. He also played one year with the Ontario Raiders, the franchise which spent the 1998 campaign in Hamilton before relocating to Toronto. Bullen also suited up for two seasons with the Detroit Turbos, who competed in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League, the circuit which rebranded as the NLL.

Being one of the few Black people in his predominantly white hometown of Orillia, Bullen said he did face his share of racism growing up. “That was more common than people believe,” he said, adding being a good athlete enabled him to run away from many confrontational situations.

Bullen added his parents encouraged him to be active in his community. “I grew up in a very positive household and told to go out and get involved in things,” he said.

Bullen said the racism he encountered spilled over into his lacrosse world. But he would often ignore it. “I had lots of people call me names and stuff like that,” he said. “I never had a big problem with it. When it happened on the floor, I wasn’t going to fight the guy over that.” Bullen stressed the fact he is Black was brought up by a very small minority.

“Ninety nine per cent of the people I dealt with, it never happened with them,” he said. And the number of times he was a target for his colour dwindled as he was growing up. “I think it happened a lot less as the years went on,” he said. “As the years went on you got to know the players and people more. Lacrosse is a small community.”

After his playing days were over Bullen turned to coaching, while continuing to work as a high school teacher in Orillia. He served as the Rock assistant coach for two and a half seasons. And he also coached his share of high lacrosse, basketball, soccer and flag football teams.