Chris Wright is graduating this semester with a bachelor of science degree in geography. An honourary degree in education should be granted to him as well. This being his fifth and final year as a post player for the University of Calgary Dinos men's basketball team, Wright can look back on his legacy and not only have no regrets, but also know that it will live longer than the hamster you had as a kid. The 2005-06 season was shakin' and breakin' at several points for the men's team; its lifeline was their six-foot-seven captain, Wright. It seems only fitting that he be the only senior player this year, as his accomplishments and credibility go unmatched.
"When [Whit Hornsberger] left I came into a strong leadership spot," Wright remembered of another veteran who couldn't play due to injury. "It was hard at first, but the guys really respected my position, and they listened which was really nice."
Wright's final year as a Dino was not as picturesque as it could've been. Coming up just short of Canada West's central division final, the young team of talented players wanted a victory for the senior. But the ability to pass on some pointers seems to be all the closure Wright needs.
"I've made so many good friends over the last five years. I've had the opportunity to be in a role where it came into a good situation," he said. "The coach has given me a lot of free reign and I've been able to expand as a player."
Wright's talent has not gone unnoticed by his fans and teammates. With new, fresh talent in Ross Bekkering, Robbie Sihota and Tony Dhaliwal, Wright spent each of his 856 minutes on the court sharing his knowledge and love for the sport. Despite numerous pains, sprains and automobiles, Wright not only proved how capable he was, but also worked to highlight the capabilities of every member of the team. For these skills, Wright was named a CW Second-Team All-Star in 2006.
Arguably though, it was his leadership skills that made all the difference for the season, and will continue to make a difference in the future. Wright strengthened one of the Dinos basketball program's brightest attributes: friendship.
"We've always tried to have a really tight team--like a network of friends," he explained. "We've never had anyone singled out on the team. That really showed in my third year when we went to nationals. Probably the best team I've ever played on. I think it really helps. That means spending time outside the court. It usually means going out and partying a lot."
Wright doesn't plan on this bond diminishing any time soon either. His plans are to continue to support the team.
"I remember in my first year Rich Wiebach was a senior post player and he said he would sponsor me in my fifth year," Wright recalled. "I'll probably do that for Ross."
Wright's maturity showed in every aspect of his game, and he attributes most of his growth as a player to the coaches.
"Coaching has been really good here. I think Dan [Vanhooren] is an awesome head coach," he said. "I've really enjoyed Wayne [Thomas] coming out of retirement from being a teacher to coach. That meant a lot to me and really has helped me out as a player."
The sentiment is mutual. On seniors' night Vanhooren described Wright as "a coach's career-maker." All modesty aside, Wright's constant interaction with the youthful team gives him better perspective on its future than anyone else.
"I wish really good things for the team in the future," Wright said. "Dan's done a really good job of bringing in players that, come two years time, are going to be phenomenal."
As the team moves forward to its new season and the recruits that come along with that, it goes without saying that Wright's quirky and serious instruction will reverberate off the walls of the Jack for years to come. And his long socks will stand alone.