In recent years, the Midway community has suffered more than its share of tragedy. One such tragedy occurred on May 6, 2007 when an accident claimed the life of 21-year-old Johnathan Jackson and confined Josh Bullard to a wheelchair. Both were graduates of Midway High School where they had enjoyed outstanding careers in athletics.
For Josh Bullard, who was then a student at Methodist University, it has been a hard five years. Bullard, however, has not been one to wallow in self pity. “When I went to rehab in Raleigh, I met a lot of guys that have it a lot worse than I do,” explains Josh. “At least I can move and I can drive.”
Bullard excelled in football, basketball, and baseball on the high school level, and played football briefly at Methodist. A couple of years ago Coach Steve Tyler of Midway Middle School called him to ask if he would be interested in assisting Steve Buchanan with the boys’ basketball team. “I told them I would try to help out,” acknowledged Bullard. “I didn’t know how much good I could do in a wheelchair. I found I could still get my point across.”
After serving as an assistant coach in both football and basketball for the past couple of years, Bullard has been named head boys basketball coach this year. The 28-year-old coach is currently finishing certification to be a substitute teacher. He has not ruled out finishing his college degree and going into the teaching profession.
Midway Middle School assistant principal Ronda Jackson, who was Josh’s junior English teacher at the high school, is thrilled to have him as part of the staff. “He was a wonderful student,” remarked Jackson, “and he’s been as big an asset as part of our staff here. Our kids don’t have many role models that they can emulate. It’s great to have someone like Josh that they can look up to.”
Bullard emphasizes he wants to start by teaching fundamentals. “We’re not going to just play street ball,” he says. “We’re going to play together. We will win together and lose together.” Coach Bullard acknowledges that there will be obstacles, but feels confident he can deal with them. “Having to explain stuff like footwork that I can’t show them myself is my biggest challenge,” he stresses.“I will need help to do the things I can’t do.”
As for dealing with the middle school behavior, Bullard is upbeat. “Sometimes you have to make them run and sometimes you have to overlook things, because they’re so young,” he explains. He says occasionally someone will ask what happened to put him in a wheelchair, but the students have been respectful and never negative.
When he’s not involved with activities at the middle school, or attending games at Midway High School, he is still working hard to improve his own physical status. “I spent time walking with leg braces and using parallel bars,” explains Bullard. “I try to stay as healthy as I can.”
Bullard has already been involved in some special athletic moments at Midway Middle. As an assistant to Buchanan, Midway won the first regular season and tournament basket-ball championships in the school’s history. As for people who have influenced him to get into coaching, he credits Steve Tyler, Steve Matthews, and Brad Hardison. All are coaches he has assisted at various levels.
Bullard has had tremendous support from family his entire life, and especially the past five years. His parents are Richard and Marty Bullard. His older brother Eric resides in Salemburg, and younger sister Martina lives in Raleigh.
Two years ago, following a football loss to Roseboro-Salemburg in the County Championship game, Bullard expressed postgame consolation to a teary-eyed group of athletes in a way that sums up his overall outlook. He said, “boys, the sun will come up tomorrow.”