Central basketball coach Bobby Wright wasn’t expecting it.
He thought his call to the AHSAA Hall of Fame may one day come, but right now he is still focused on getting his 2014 Red Devils squad ready for a new season a year after coming maddeningly close to playing for a state championship.
“I was overwhelmed,” Wright said, describing the moment last Friday when he was told he had been selected for the association’s 25th Hall class. “Shocked would be a good word. I had never thought about anything like that. I’m still focused on trying to win more basketball games. I had always just taken the approach that if it was going to happen, it would happen.”
Little did he know that his wife and girls basketball coach Carolyn was compiling his win totals and accomplishments over his more than two decades of service to high school athletics:
A 449-160 record in 22 seasons as Central’s head basketball coach;
Win totals of 29 games in 1992-93 and 1998-99 and a 27-2 record in 1994-95;
Five trips to the state semifinals and a trip to the Class 6A title game in 1999;
Twenty-six seasons spent on the sidelines as the Red Devils defensive coordinator in football.
Despite the intense focus on continuing his team’s success into the future, he said he was able to look at those accomplishments and feel some level of pride over what he’s done as a coach.
“My body of work that I’ve put into basketball means more to me now because you get this kind of recognition,” he said. “I want to continue to do an even better job than I’ve done in the past. I just feel really blessed and fortunate to have the opportunity to work here at Central. This school has been so good to me.”
He mentioned the former players and assistant coaches, administrators and fellow teachers.
“I’ve had so much support,” he said. “You need to have that kind of support in order to get something like this done. Part of this recognition is do in to all those people.”
And, of course, his wife.
“Being the kind of woman that she is to get this info together and submit it —,” he said. “I’m blessed. It was totally a surprise to me.”
Wright said he’d received numerous calls and texts of support throughout the day on Monday after news of his selection had been reported. Former players and coaches as well as friends had been “blowing up” his phone all morning, he said.
“That means a lot to me to hear from your old players and everything,” he said. “To think that they thought enough to call and congratulate me. That’s an awesome feeling.”
While his current elation is high, he said he figured it would mean even more to him once he decided to call it a career.
“I’m ecstatic about being selected,” he said. “But I know when I hang up my whistle, it will probably mean even more to me then. Right now, I’m still just trying to win some basketball games.”
Wright will be inducted at a ceremony at the Renaissance Hotel at the Convention Center in Montgomery, Ala., on March 23, 2015. The Red Devils hit the court on Friday at home against Opelika.