If you looked up the term "lifer" in the sports dictionary, a picture of Bobby Wright would be next to the definition.
Wright has been the head boys basketball coach at Central for the past 24 seasons and is in his 37th year as a coach at Central. To give an idea of how long Wright has been associated with Central athletics, Jimmy Carter was president when Wright first became a coach at Central.
That long-term association -- along with the tremendous amount of success he's enjoyed as Red Devils' head basketball coach -- has allowed Wright to approach a milestone few coaches have been able to achieve. Wright enters Central's quarterfinal matchup in the Shaw Christmas Tournament with 499 career wins and aims for No. 500 when the Red Devils take the court Friday at 8 p.m. at Jordan.
Wright said he wasn't exactly sure how many career wins he had until someone told him about the impending milestone and that the success he's had is a tribute to the players he's had over the past 20-plus seasons.
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"I didn't even know I was getting close to 500 until somebody told me," said Wright, whose team is the No. 1 seed in the Shaw Tournament. "To have as many wins as I do speaks to the level of talent I've been able to coach since I've been here. They've bought into this program and have worked hard so that we've been able to win a lot of games.
"I really want to go out and get this win for our fans," added Wright. "They've supported me and supported our program a lot through the years."
Even though he's stayed with the Red Devils for so long -- and even serves as the athletic director for the Phenix City School System as well -- Wright said there were chances to leave Central, but he's perfectly happy with his decision to stay put.
"I had the chance to go different places, including the collegiate level," said Wright. "But I was successful here and (his wife, girls head basketball coach Carolyn Wright) was here, so I decided to stay at Central. My wife coaching here was a major reason why I never left. That and I've always had a good program. There's no reason to go anywhere else. I've always enjoyed the success we've had here."
Carolyn Wright earned career win No. 400 last season herself and Bobby Wright said there are a lot of basketball discussions, both at and away from the gym.
"We talk about it around the house," said Wright. "She'll have a bad or a good game, we'll talk about it. Same if I have a bad or a good game. We bounce it off each other a lot and I like it. We do things together and most of it revolves around sports. We're very in tune with athletics."
Bobby Wright's teams have won 13 area championships dating back to 1978 and this season, the Red Devils sport a 10-0 record and are the No. 1 seed in the Shaw Christmas Tournament.
"This year has been great so far," said Wright. "This year's team only has three seniors and we only got three people back who played last year, so we're relatively young. Back in the summer, I knew we had a chance to be a good team, but I definitely didn't know we'd be 10-0 due to our lack of experience. Our kids have bought into the system and I'm really enjoying this season. It's a fun ride with them right now."
Even with almost 40 years at Central under his belt, don't count on Wright hanging up his whistle anytime soon.
"My health is good and I'm enjoying what I do," said Wright. "Life is good. If I ever get to where I feel like it's no longer fun, then I'll retire. But I enjoy coaching, being around the kids and the success we've had. Most people retire when they want to go enjoy themselves. I'm already enjoying myself right now. If I retired, I'd probably be off watching other teams play basketball. Instead of going and watching other teams play, I'd rather have my own team and be coaching them."