BURBANK HIGH — When
"There is no club swimming in Burbank, so right off the bat we're at a disadvantage," said Wright, a Hart High graduate. "When I came in, the program in swim and water polo, there were probably maybe 40 kids total, boys and girls. Now we're looking at 140 in the programs the last couple of years.
"To just look at the progression and to see how far we've come since then is pretty amazing."
To make matters worse, Burbank didn't even have a home facility nine years ago, after its on-campus pool was damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
"We were training at McCambridge [Park] and Verdugo [Park]," Wright said. "Then we had to use the Burroughs pool for three years until we got our own new facility."
For nearly a decade, Wright has enjoyed stints as the Bulldogs' boys' and girls' swimming coach, boys' water polo coach and a variety of assistant roles, in addition to serving as a teacher and administrator at the school.
In the wake of his long association with the school, it was with mixed emotions that Wright accepted a position at another school. Friday, he left Burbank and will start his new position as the assistant principle of instruction at Cerritos High on Monday.
"I had a real good run here," Wright said. "It's a bummer having to leave the program, but this is a real good opportunity for me. But the players have been really cool with it and they understand."
Wright took over the boys' water polo program this season and the Bulldogs are off to a record-setting season. Along with a 12-0 record, Burbank has also won championships in the San Marino Tournament and El Rancho Tournament.
"I think this is the first time the boys' polo team has ever gone into league with an undefeated record," Wright said.
As a swim coach, Wright said one of his proudest accomplishments came in 2004 when his boys' team finished second in the Foothill League behind powerhouse Hart.
"We also lost to [Crescenta Valley] by three points one year," he said.
Burbank Principal Hani Youssef said Wright has been an asset to the school, both with the athletic programs and in the classroom.
"You lose someone after nine years, that's not easy," he said. "He will be sorely missed. He is a great human being. He gets along great with students, the parents love him and he's a great supporter in terms of boosters, athletes and students. We're very happy for him and this is something he really wants and something he deserves. But we are also sorry to see him go."
Wright, who applied for the Cerritos job before agreeing to take over the Bulldogs' water polo program, said he is confident he is leaving the team in good hands.
"I'm not the first coach to leave and I won't be the last," he said. "But I think the programs will continue to do well. I just hope I was able to leave my little mark."
Wright said former Bulldogs player James Berman will serve as the interim boys' water polo coach.
Burbank Athletic Director Fred Cook said the applications for the new position were taken through Friday and interviews will begin Tuesday.