NOTE: This is the tenth installment in a series introducing the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Look for veteran track & field official Houston Young’s profile Thursday. The 25th AHSAA HOF Banquet is set for March 23 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
By BILL PLOTT
Bobby Wright was graduated from Buena Vista (GA) High School in 1970 and Fort Valley State College in 1974.
He began his teaching and coaching career in 1975 at Carver High School in Columbus, GA. He was head track coach and an assistant in football and basketball.
In 1977 he moved across the Chattahoochee River to Central High School in Phenix City. At Central he taught, coached and chaired the Health and Physical Education Department over the years. He added athletic director to his duties in 1998.
His first basketball team went 19-9 in 1989-90 advancing to the sub-state. In 26 years as boys’ basketball coach, Coach Wright has had 24 winning seasons and 15 squads with 20 or more wins. His teams have averaged more than 20 wins per season in compiling a 546-185 record, including 22-4 in 2015 and a Central Regional tournament runner-up finish. He collected his 500th win in the Shaw Christmas Tournament last year. During his career his Central teams have won17 area championships and appeared in 20 sub-state tournaments, advancing to the quarterfinals 10 times and the semifinals five times. The 1998-99 team was Class 6A state runner-up.
Basketball has been a dominant factor in Wright’s home life, also. His wife Carolyn has been the girls’ basketball coach at Central since 1991. She won her 400th game in 2013.
Wright was named coach of the year by local newspapers numerous times.
In football, he served as defensive coordinator for 25 years. Central had only two losing seasons during that time. Opponents were held to single digits in scoring against Central 16 times. Fifty-nine shutouts were recorded by his defensive squads. Central won the Class 6A state championship in 1993 with him as defensive coordinator.
Former football Coach Wayne Trawick wrote of Wright’s value to his team: “Coach Wright became our defensive coordinator in 1984 after serving several years as position coach on defense. Selecting Bobby as our defensive coordinator was certainly one of the best decisions I made during my tenure at Central High School. He was a great motivator and was so good in getting the best effort from each young man he coached. His tough love approach to his coaching style was well accepted by our players. They respected him and loved him. Bobby’s preparation for each game was excellent.
“We hired Coach Wright as our head basketball coach for the 1989-90 school year. He had served under Coach James Redd for several years as our B-team coach and varsity assistant. He not only continued the tradition Coach Redd had built at Central, he improved it. [He has] the most wins by a Central basketball coach in school history. I’m sure that number will go up considerably before he retires.
“Bobby works tirelessly in helping athletes in football and basketball get to the next level, and Central certainly has had quite a number to achieve that.”
Retired principal William G. Hayes wrote: “It was my privilege to work with Coach Bobby Wright from 1984 until 1986…Coach Wright is very cognizant of the importance of both education and athletics. He has devoted his life to the development of both and in particular to education and athletics at Central High School. I have observed Coach Wright as a teacher, football coach, and head varsity basketball coach. In fact, it was my privilege to name Coach Wright head varsity basketball coach at Central. His knowledge and leadership skills have established and maintained a very competitive program that is recognized throughout the state of Alabama.
“Coach Wright possesses a profound ability to motivate student athletes. I have often observed students with all odds stacked against them become successful because of Coach Wright’s drive and determination n working with them. He would accept nothing but their best, no excuses. While I could recount for you statistics, accomplishments and honors, nothing is as important as the positive impact he has made and continues to make on so many young lives.
Hayes said being selected to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame is an honor that Coach Wright is very deserving of. “But, if you were to ask him, he would probably say seeing a young student-athlete grow, mature and succeed in the classroom and on the field of play is reward enough.”