Tom Bullock likes to talk about Father Finbar, who used to yell, “Mr. Bullock, you’re going to be the death of me!” from across the quad.
He likes to talk about Frank Harrington, who started the Saint Anselm hockey program and sometimes bought the team dinner out of his own pocket.
He likes to talk about Father Jude, who told him that if he wasted an opportunity to help someone else, he was wasting his own life.
He does not like to talk about himself. He’s a behind the scenes kind of guy. As a result, many people are unaware of the large impact the 1974 grad and former hockey player has had on the Saint Anselm campus and its community.
“Tom has always shied away from the spotlight, but the truth is that for several decades, when it comes to hockey at all levels of play, Tom has always been there to help, guide, coach, and support our teams,” says Fr. Mark Cooper, O.S.B., vice president for finance.
Bullock is one of several people responsible for the fact that the Hawks hockey team has home ice. He was persistent in his call for an arena to be built and was instrumental in raising $250,000. The dream became a reality when Robert and Miriam Smith (parents of hockey player Rob Smith ’86 who was a high school hockey player and skied four years for Saint Anselm) made a $5 million gift in the name of Thomas F. Sullivan.
Much of Bullock’s contribution to the construction of the arena does not show up in any account book. Along with other dedicated alumni and Father Jude Gray, O.S.B., he spent countless hours organizing, planning, and fund raising.
The college now has a suitable venue for high visibility events like presidential debates and a national City Year convention keynoted by former President Bill Clinton. The arena has even been dressed up for major alumni events, with candlelit tables and a jazz combo. Since its opening in 2003, it has been used by students, staff, and local youth hockey programs.
Buildings aside, Bullock can easily be considered hockey’s guardian angel. He started the Friends of Hawks Hockey, and was assistant men’s hockey coach from 1978-1983. When women’s hockey coach Kerstin Matthews was on maternity leave, he volunteered to help assistant coach Karilyn Pilch. He coaches the men’s club hockey program, now in its third season. One hockey player said, “he put in more hours working for the team than we did playing on it.”
Bullock has helped build and continue the pride of hockey at Saint Anselm, according to Matthews. “When people talk about the hockey family at Saint Anselm, Tom is the first name associated with it. He’s always offering to help the players when they leave Saint Anselm, and he truly represents why Saint Anselm has a family feel.”
But coaching is only part of the story. His constant goal (and the thing that gets him most excited) is helping students get jobs. He tells every hockey player to send him their resume, and when he says he’ll try to help, he means it. Bullock has hired many alumni, and provided internships in his business. The number of Saint Anselm graduates he has ushered into employment through his network of friends and associates has not been counted, but it grows longer all the time.
“I almost feel as if I owe it to them,” Bullock says. “I got a lot in life, so whenever I see an opportunity, I try to give back.” He describes being short of tuition money when his father was sick and couldn’t work. Coach Harrington put up the collateral so he could borrow money. “He was the most generous man I ever met.”
Bullock’s dedication to hockey started when he was growing up in Framingham, Mass., with his three siblings. He could walk to six ponds from his house, and he skated after school and on weekends until the sun went down. “About 100 kids would be out there together,” he recalls.
After graduating, he got a job in the college pub. He was hired by his college roommate, Paul Morrissey ’74. However, he knew he wanted to work for himself. Having worked in bars and for a small beer distributor, he soon bought into the business where he had worked summers. Since then, he has become the full owner and grown the company, Amoskeag Beverages.
Bullock comes to campus not only for hockey, but for alumni events. He is a member of the President’s Society and the Corporate Partners Program, and a supporter of the Scholarship Golf Tournament. He chaired his class reunion committee in 2008, and is a past recipient of the Joseph P. Collins ’34 Meritorious Service Award.
He’s proud of the hockey arena. “It’s as nice a facility as there is anywhere in the country,” he says. “And playing hockey at Saint Anselm College is a first class experience.”