If by chance you find yourself on the Northwest campus this spring, you will probably hear coach Rich Wright’s voice.
Loud, intense and filled with passion, Wright has already made a name for himself thanks to his success as Northwest’s defensive coordinator. But after former head coach Adam Dorrell left for Abilene Christian, Wright was promoted.
Intensity is not the only style coach Wright brings to the table. In contrast to Dorrell’s more formal approach, Wright prefers to build more personal relationships with his players. His constant emphasizing of what it means to carry on the tradition laid out by former coach Scott Bostwick shows he understands what it means to be a part of Northwest football.
Although Dorrell won championships, the close relationships with players was something he never could accomplish. Players stayed at a distance while doing their job, never developing a family-like relationship.
Throughout the season, Wright opened his home for defensive linemen to watch film and he hosted an annual dinner. If that is not enough, walk-on junior Matt Connelly received a scholarship that Wright made public, emphasizing Connelly’s hard work.
“You see, the Division I guys do it all the time,” Wright said. “We brainstormed and wanted to figure out a way to bring excitement into the program.”
But, it was more than just a marketing piece. It symbolized Wright’s dedication to creating a family-like atmosphere. In return for players investing in him, Wright allowed players to see deeper into his life.
In the past, Wright’s father flew in from New York to stay with his son for one week. During that time, he attended meetings and a game. In addition, Wright’s wife and kids spend a significant amount of time around players.
Some coaches may talk about how their team strives to create a family atmosphere by building relationships with players while winning games. If his time at Northwest has been any indication, Wright is more than willing to put in the work.
As for how his first spring is going, there are a lot of holes to fill before Northwest takes the field in the fall.
“We’ve made a lot of mistakes, but we are young,” Wright said. “We have replaced a lot of guys, but around here, you better reload instead of rebuilding.”
The sometimes intense style of coaching exhibited by Wright symbolizes his passion for the sport. That same passion enables him to pay close attention to the small details other coaches commonly overlook.
Because of this, rarely does an opposing team get the best of whatever unit Wright has control over. From the defensive line to the defense as a whole, Wright-led units tend to consistently perform at an elite level
A lot of time remains between now and the beginning of fall camp, but the benefit of promoting from within means players will not have to develop new relationships with new coaches.
Behind all of the fire and passion that fuels Wright lies a sense of family that has allowed him to thrive at a high level for over a decade. He has yet to coach his first game as head coach, but Wright already seems like the right fit.