Wright was introduced at a Tuesday press conference as the head coach of the school’s girls basketball team.
It’s his second stint at the helm of the Lady Wildcat program – the first was 1985-92 – with two runs as the Wildcat head coach in between – 1992-2002 and 2007-2013.
Wright led the Lady ‘Cats to the 5th District Championship in 1990 and the boys team to four (1995, ‘97, 2009 and ‘13) in addition to a trip to the Sweet 16 in ‘97.
Wright, who was a middle school teacher during his entire previous coaching career, retired from the school last year.
“I love coaching basketball and working with young people,” Wright said. “I’ve enjoyed a year off, but I missed it, and I didn’t realize an opportunity like this would open.”
The job was vacant after Russell Malone resigned after one season.
Wright said he was invited to attend this summer’s 4-H Camp in Dawson Springs to teach basketball, and he had a chance to work with a couple Lady ‘Cat players.
“Something triggered in my heart,” Wright said. “The way they were soaking things up and were receptive to being taught, it made me want to do my part to help out.”
Wright said he crossed paths with TCHS principal Shannon Burcham that day and began discussing the opening.
“It was a combination of things,” Wright said. “The previous coach had just resigned, it was late in the summer, and I felt like I could help these girls,” Wright said. “I’ve heard from some parents and players and they’ve been supportive.”
“We are excited to have Coach Mike Wright back to lead our Lady Wildcat basketball program,” Burcham said. “After a brief retirement and a successful career as a coach in multiple sports at Trigg County, Coach Wright has chosen to once again serve the youth of our community. Coach Wright brings with him a tremendous level of experience, a great knowledge of the game and a passion and enthusiasm that is contagious.”
Wright, who also serves on the Trigg County Fiscal Court as District One Magistrate, said he intends to continue to fulfill those duties.
“My only concern was that I wanted to make sure this would fit in well with my magistrate duties,” Wright said. “I discussed it with [Judge-Executive Hollis Alexander] and got his blessing, so I’ve committed. And it’s not halfway. I’m planning on coaching.”
Wright said a youth camp will be held July 28-30 (see next week’s issue for more information), and he will soon set a meeting for returning high school players.
“There’s not a lot of time left in the summer because many of the players are starting fall sports,” Wright said. “But I do want to get them together. Most of the kids I already know, but I want them to get to know me as a coach and for me to get to know them as players.”
Entering the position with more than 20 years of head coaching experience and knowledge of this year’s returning Lady ‘Cats will be an immediate positive, Wright said.
“I think my experience will help a lot,” Wright said. “Somebody asked me recently what all I’ve coached, and I said, ‘Two years as head eighth grade coach, boys assistant for two years, head girls coach for seven years, head boys coach for 10 years, middle school coach for five years, head boys coach for six years ...’ and they said, ‘How old are you?’ I’m only 54, but in that time, I gained a lot of valuable experience, and I think I can use that to help our girls. It’s all about having the enthusiasm and the energy level. You’ve got to be young at heart to do something like this. I think I’ve got a check in that box.”
From a more personal perspective, Wright said he’s looking forward to coaching players who may resemble a few girls he coached in his first tenure with the Lady ‘Cats.
“I’m getting the chance to coach the daughters of some of the girls I coached, and I’m excited about that,” Wright said.
Wright said he’s also excited at the chance to give back to the school and the community.
“The school system gets a lot of blame sometimes for not hiring a specific coach for every sport,” Wright said. “We offer about 20 teams, every one of them has at least one or two coaches and some have four or five. You’re talking about 65 or more coaches, and even in a perfect world, you’re not going to get that. To be able to step up from the community, if you have the time and ability, the community needs that.”
The Lady ‘Cats have finished with 10 wins in three of the last six years but haven’t finished with more than that since a 15-10 campaign in 2002-03. Wright said he knows the challenge ahead of him and the team and that he’ll do all he can to improve the program.
“My goal is to provide for our girls the best basketball program they could possibly be part of,” Wright said. “I want to teach, lead and develop them as a total person and athlete. A lot of it is just caring about them. It’s going to be the most important program to me. These girls will mean the world to me, and that’s how I’ll treat them.”
Wright said he’s been overwhelmed by the level of support he’s received.
“I’ve had a couple of ‘Are you out of your mind?’ comments, but the majority have been really excited about it,” Wright said. “I think there will be bigger crowds and more community involvement.”
The Lady ‘Cats were 88-99 during Wright’s first stint from 1985-92, including a 65-45 mark in the final four seasons, including one 21-win campaign and the program’s only victory in 2nd Region Tournament.
“In those years, we were playing every year against Marshall County, one of the best teams in the state, and playing Hopkinsville and Christian County once or twice a year,” Wright said.
The boys team went 123-148 in Wright’s first tenure and 98-71 in his second.