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Don’t wait to thank a coach

Joe Paull
Central coach Carolyn Wright reacts to a class in the Class 6A semi-final game of the AHSAA Final Four in Birmingham, AL Friday morning.
Joe Paull Central coach Carolyn Wright reacts to a class in the Class 6A semi-final game of the AHSAA Final Four in Birmingham, AL Friday morning.

Death can disturb several emotions.

It can create fear, anger and, of course, sadness.

But regret is the one that so often debilitates us in a way we can’t describe. Regret causes anxiety and depression. It leaves us with a hole.

After reading all of the stories and columns we’ve had on the death of Coach David Pollard, it’s clear he made an impact. But I wish we could have told that story before something like this happened.

We know the role coaches and teachers have in our children’s lives. They often are the most important people outside of family.

His death made me realize I’ve never said thank you to the coaches and teachers I feel made a great impact on me. They pushed me to my limits both athletically and intellectually.

When I was in eighth grade, I was scared to death to go to Central High School. Not because the school scared me. The ladies basketball coach was my fear.

I remember going to games in the late ’90s and seeing coach Carolyn Wright stomp around in her coach’s box with her fancy heels and nice outfits. She scared me to death.

When she became very agitated, she would take off her jewelry. You didn’t want to be the referee if she had to take off her suit jacket. Someone was getting chewed out if that happened.

The summer before my ninth grade year at Central we had “spring training.” It included a drill sergeant, who was not Coach Wright.

I remember waking up the next morning, attempting to roll over in the bed and immediately bursting into tears. My entire body hurt. I was sure I couldn’t make it to Day 2 of “boot camp.”

I played for Coach Wright for three years. She was strict when she needed to be, but she also stood up for her players when we needed it.

During one lunch break, a boy at my lunch table hit me with his folder. It tore my top lip open. When I went to her office to get some ice, she did what any good coach would do.

She forced me to tell her his name, went to the lunch room and blessed him out. She had my back when I needed it.

But she showed tough love when I needed it, too.

If one of us twisted an ankle, Coach Wright’s prescription always was a bucket of ice water. I’m certain that medicine hurt worse than the ankle rolling.

And if we didn’t keep our foot in the bucket, she’d sit in our laps until it went numb. You can imagine we rarely complained about ankles after a few frozen buckets.

But Coach Wright was an important part of my high school. She taught me discipline, and she showed me how to be a leader.

I know many other girls who are products of Coach Wright’s teams probably have similar stories to tell. And I’m certain many of them will say the same thing.

She made us better people, and I don’t want to wait another day to tell her.