In professional sports, success is measured by points scored, championships won, or high player salaries. In high school and college sports, coaches often measure success by lives they have changed, and the players they have helped grow.
Curtis Wright, coach of the Ben Davis boys’ basketball team considers his most important goal education.
“I’ve been working toward the goal of getting into education, becoming a teacher. As far as coaching it’s just a cherry on top of the cake,” said Wright.
Wright knew he wanted to help young people since the eighth grade. That year, he participated in a “switch day” where teachers acted as students, and students acted as teachers. Wright saw that someone in education could have a powerful influence on a young person’s life.
Wright makes sure that his players understand that school is their first priority.
“The one thing we stress is that if you can’t do it in the classroom during the school day, you’ll never be able to do it on the court. So what we try and do is help these young boys understand that you have to play the game of school better than you play the game of basketball,” said Wright
Brad Hackett, coach of Muhlenberg College’s track team also sees his primary role as an educator.
“A coach really is an educator first and foremost and I think that is what I love the most – teaching, both on the track and about life,” said Hackett.
Of course, coaches are happy to see their athletes do well on the playing field.
“I love to coach because I can see the happiness in an athlete when they succeed, be it a school record or a personal best. I love the challenge of putting together a plan to aid in the growth and development of an athlete,” said Gary Aldrich, coach of Carnegie Mellon’s track and field team.
In a short three years, Wright has seen several players get the change to play college basketball at the division I level. Just this past year, one of his players won a scholarship at a Division I school.
Wright has found that a high level of maturity is necessary to successfully transition from high school to college.
Many coaches state heading off to college is like starting over again. It requires a person to have to have a great skill set when it comes to time management, work ethic, study skills (and) behavior. Wright works to provide those skills to his players while they are still in high school.
Many high school coaches would like to coach in the NBA one day, but that’s not Wright’s goal. He’s happy staying where he is.
“Overall there still is a pure love of sport when you talk about high school athletics. And in addition to that I’m not ready to leave the classroom. I really love the social interaction that I have with young adolescents on a day to day basis, and I don’t think I’m ready to move away,” said Wright.