By Robert Janish
Senior Sports Writer
Fifth-year senior Ashley Bull, the Langley, British Columbia native, is leading her team on the field one year after an ACL injury sidelined her for the season, but ultimately helped her become one of the foundations for this year’s team.
With career numbers of 76 goals and 91 points, Bull has been one of the consistent players on the Griffs, starting in 69 of 70 games played in her college career. Even though she has been a member of the women’s lacrosse program for five years, her desire to be a Golden Griffin goes back many years, even before her freshman season.
Bull said her journey to commit to Canisius and play lacrosse began at the age of 14 in British Columbia, but two years later is when the idea of playing here first came up.
Team Canada try-outs came to Canada’s west coast and that’s when Bull met Griffs Head Coach Scott Teeter. “That’s where our head coach now, Scott Teeter, he was also the head coach for Team Canada,” Bull said. Even though she never entertained the idea of going to college in the U.S., she liked playing for Teeter and the system he implements.
Bull comes from British Columbia, which is prominent for box lacrosse, an indoor version of lacrosse that is played across North America. After initial practices, camps and roster tryouts, “two out West girls made the final roster… Ashley being one of them.”
Through further evaluation of his roster, he noticed how Bull has an amazing skill set and stick skills. It was actually through the process with Team Canada, Teeter said, that he began recruiting her for Canisius.
He added that her decision involved her entire family, as her older brother Brendan was a member of the men’s lacrosse program, which factored into her committing here as well. “Ashley is a very family-oriented individual that, the whole family from grandparents down, live and breathe lacrosse so it was a natural fit,” Teeter said.
Bull made the Team Canada roster at 18 and went to the World Cup in Hanover, Germany with Teeter as her coach. “I continued talking with Teeter and then he mentioned to me, ‘so how would you feel about playing lacrosse at Canisius?’” Bull knew that being familiar with Teeter already and his style of coaching, that playing for him at Canisius “would be a perfect fit.”
Senior Janae Guy said that Bull has been a great contributor for their team and the stick skills she possesses are unlike anyone else on the field. Also, with Bull’s ability to defend and shoot, it adds to her importance to the team.
“As a defender, I know a lot of the other defenders don’t even know how to shoot, so I think that Ashley takes a lot of her skills and is able to put them in the defensive end, but also the offensive end to,” Guy said.
Bull began her college career as a line defender, and for her sophomore season, was moved into the midfield after graduating seniors left a gap at the position. After adjusting at first to the new position, she said Teeter “ever since then, he just keeps pushing me and pushing me to different heights I didn’t think I could reach.”
Guy has also seen the type of person that Bull can be, since she stayed for a fifth year, allowing them to get closer with one another.
“I saw about how genuine of a teammate (she was), but also a friend,” Guy said.
Throughout her years at Canisius, Bull had many teammates whose example she followed. This includes the Kotas sisters, Maria and Gabby, and current assistant coach and former player Tori Quinn, who all helped shape her into the player and leader she is on the team this season.
Teeter said Bull is a natural leader and that she has either been a captain or assistant captain most of her life playing lacrosse.
“It wasn’t just at minor levels,” said Teeter. “When she was going out for the provincial teams and Team B.C, she always had the “C” on her jersey as well.”
She also has a good balance.
“She can decipher what the coach is saying and break it down to make her teammates understand it,” said Teeter. He also said that it may be said in a different way, but is the same point he is trying to get across.
When Bull tore her ACL in the opener of what was her senior season, it devastated the team and Ashley as well, because in her three years at Canisius, she had never not started a game, so hurting herself and watching others play was tough for her.
After first injuring her knee, Bull was told to not be discouraged and that playing next year would be a possibility.
“Teeter, right away said, ‘worst comes to worst, you just come back and play for me next year.'”
She added that although it was devastating and that it’s the year you should go out with a bang, she just had to accept the fact that she was injured, and move on.
Despite the injury, she maintained her captain status and wanted to do as much as she could to help her team out and find a new way to lead the team.
This motivated Bull, as she understands that this is her last year, this is her last go at playing lacrosse. “She’s going to make the best of it,” said Guy.
Teeter added that although the injury changed plans, it allowed her to earn her Master’s degree, something that might not have happened had she not gotten injured last year.
“She was going to go back to B.C. and she was going to start coaching lacrosse and working, but now the opportunity to get her Master’s in Sport Administration as well, but then also play,” he said.
Teeter added that even though it may have been devastating at first, all the cards seem to fall in place afterwards, and it just took hard work and determination going through rehab and getting back to the point where she is now.
Guy added that Bull is also a great motivator and always brings positive energy to every practice and games.
“Ashley Bull will be missed,” said Guy on Bull’s 2017 graduation.
Teeter said Bull had to lead vocally from the sidelines after the injury, and that she took Meg Maloney, the team’s draw person, under her wing. With her help, Teeter said Maloney really developed and as a result, the team didn’t miss a beat on the draws, a testament to Bull’s experience and ability to push her teammates.
Bull said that she lives by the mentality of treating others the way you want to be treated and making sure that she’s always staying positive. She added that it’s great that her teammate Janae Guy feels the same because she always tries to make sure Bull stays positive towards people.
“I want to make sure I’m always there for people” and to never distance herself from someone that needs guidance.”
“[Bull]’s loved by everyone,” Teeter said. “She gives it her all on the field and there’s been some rough patches that she hasn’t performed at the best of her ability, and I had to give her some tough love, but Ashley treats me like her second dad and she doesn’t want to disappoint.”
Teeter added that the maturity level has immensely grown for Bull throughout her time at Canisius. He said that she understands the coaches when they come down hard on her and her teammates, and knows how to go and pick them up.
It’s those types of approaches were he believes Bull is a real natural leader of all phases. Her teammates can go to her, the coaching staff can lean on her a little bit, that she’s very mature and whenever a coach gets a player like that staying for their fifth year just makes your team stronger.
Hard work is also important to Bull because working on the little things make the big things happen, which helped her to succeed.
“I’m kind of hoping I leave a positive impact on this school, I just really hope I can be remembered for a positive thing,” Bull said. “What’s most important, in terms of athletics, is what I leave behind in the program, hopefully it’s positivity, hopefully it’s coming in and bringing in a light feel to practice but still knowing when to be serious.”
Bull said it’s important to remember that every action has a reaction and you want to make sure you’re holding yourself accountable and you want to just lead by example. “That’s something I like to pride myself in,” she said.
“She’s definitely one of the best to wear the blue and gold,” Teeter said about Bull’s place in program history. “It’s really tough to break records in our program with our success that we’ve had in previous players and alumni that we’ve had too and for her to break the career draw controls record; draw controls is possession, that makes our team better.”
Teeter views Bull as a game-changer for his team.
“Defensively, she plays one of the toughest spots in our zone and if Ashley makes an error, [VanLaeken]’s usually not that happy because it’ll be a point-blank scoring opportunity,” Teeter said. “Ashley has really limited those errors and really understands our systems and really how to give herself the advantage in our systems.”
Teeter added that those draw controls are possessions they don’t have to play defense to earn, and that the team could just go on the attack right away and put the other team’s defense under pressure more, starts with that.
Teeter says offensive creativity is crucial so that the star player doesn’t need to be its focal point, but always contributes on the goal sheet.
She’ll have two or three points with a break-out game, but when she scores, she scores big goals,” he said.
After five seasons as a member of the women’s lacrosse program, Bull looks to join rare company in the history of the program with the potential to earn four MAAC championships, but also to close out a career that represents adversity and toughness.