Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Coach: the Wright time to step down from B-CC

Barons’ baseball bench boss departs to find new challenges

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Looking for a change, long-time Bethesda-Chevy Chase High baseball coach and physical education teacher Bill Wright decided last month to retire from both positions.

Wright was a teacher in the county for 38 years and has served as B-CC’s varsity baseball coach since 1984. At that time, he was also the school’s boys varsity basketball coach.

‘‘I hung it up,” Wright said. ‘‘Thirty-eight years later, I thought I’d try something else for a while. I made my decision halfway through the season.”

During his 24 years as the varsity baseball coach, Wright captured nine division titles and two regional championships, reaching the state final in 1988 and ’89 when he coached the Harrell brothers, Matt and Phil, who later played at Duke University. His career record with the program is 267-115.

Wright coached at the Crown All-Star game, now called the Brooks Robinson High School All-Star game, in 1996.

The Barons compiled a 9-10 record this past spring, which included going 1-1 in the 3A West Region playoffs. They defeated Linganore, 8-5, before losing, 4-0, to eventual state champion Westminster in the regional quarterfinals, which turned out to be Wright’s last game in charge. The squad reached the regional final in both 2003 and ’04 but lost both times.

‘‘Each team gets up and down through the years and it all comes down to the players,” said Wright. ‘‘Coaching is very important, but it only takes the talent so far.”

Wright is a long-time county resident, who began his playing career in the Montgomery County Baseball Association in the mid-1950s.

He later became a three-sport athlete — football, basketball and baseball — at Wheaton High from 1961-64. From there, Wright pitched for two years at Montgomery College and landed a scholarship to the University of Kentucky.

He parlayed his college career into a brief professional stint with the Washington Senators organization, which drafted him in 1966. An elbow injury, however, ended his career prematurely.

Wright started his high-school baseball coaching career in the early 1980s as a junior varsity coach at Magruder. He came to Bethesda-Chevy Chase in 1981 to take the boys basketball reigns. Wright held that post for 17 years, winning a state title during the 1983-84 season. Two players from that team, including junior varsity boys basketball coach Mark Karver, currently coach at B-CC. A third, Chet Culver, is now the Governor of Iowa.

Wright compiled a 341-162 record in those 17 years as the head boys basketball coach.

For his long dedication to the sport of baseball in the county, Wright received the Paul Diamandides Award, given by the MCBA, in the fall of 2005. Wright spent that same fall as the junior varsity field hockey coach at Walter Johnson, helping his daughter, Sarah, a former standout at B-CC who spent 2005 as Walter Johnson’s varsity field hockey coach.

That lengthy and distinguished coaching career may not be over just yet, either. Wright has not closed the door on coaching in the county again in the near future.

‘‘I don’t know exactly what I’m doing yet,” Wright said. ‘‘I’m doing some house chores these days but we’ll see what comes up. If a position comes open and they want me, I might entertain it. I would consider both [baseball and basketball positions] but baseball is my biggest interest.”