When Wellsville High decided earlier this year to name its track after Jim Wright, the longtime Eagle coach was humbled.
"That was quite an honor," said Wright, the Eagles' head boys track coach since 1969. " It's something you don't expect. I really don't know what that means. I guess it means I've lasted a long time. I've been real lucky. Wellsville has been good to us."
Wright, who has taught at his alma mater since 1960, will retire from teaching at the end of the school year. He doesn't want to stop coaching just yet and plans to return next year as assistant football coach and head track coach.
"I must enjoy it," Wright said of coaching. "Because I still want to do it. So many good kids are coming back in track that it makes it hard up to give it up."
Wright, a lifelong Wellsville resident, has coached softball, basketball and track in junior high. He's also coached football, boys basketball and track for the high school.
"That's about all we've had," Wright said.
Wright never strayed too far from WHS, where he graduated in 1955. He graduated from Ottawa University before landing his first teaching job in the Wellsville district.
"I went quite a ways away," Wright said jokingly of the nearby college.
While in college, Wright never envisioned coaching high school sports.
"It just happened," he said. "Quite frankly when I first started, I signed on as a match teacher only. About two or three weeks before school started, the superintendent asked me how'd I like to coach junior high softball, basketball and track. I said, 'Shoot, I'd like that.' It was a non-paying job at that time."
Ironically, Wright's teaching replacement is the man who Wright took over for in 1960. Phil Berg, a substitute teacher for the district in recent years, preceded Wright and will take over his teaching duties.
As for how Wright plans to spend his days now, he said, "I guess I'll be a fulltime coach. It'll give me lots of time to look at film."
-- Steve Rottinghaus' phone message number is 832-7152. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org