By Mark Ambrogi
It started with a son taking a long shot to get his father Super Bowl tickets. What has evolved is family tribute to their late mother.
Lebanon High School football coach Kent Wright was watching his team’s game film with Sunday Night Football in the background. A spot on an NFL contest called “Together We Make Football” caught his attention. The grand prize group winner receives a trip to the Super Bowl, including game tickets and transportation. The prize is up to 62 guests (immediate family members).
Trouble was he had just a half-hour before the midnight deadline. Kent didn’t even have time to proofread and made the deadline by two minutes. His last line of his essay stated he had more to tell.
A NFL Films producer wanted to hear more and called the next day. What followed has been a whirlwind for the Wrights, long Indiana’s first family of football. Kent’s father Bud Wright has been Sheridan’s coach for 49 seasons, winning nine state titles. Older brother Kevin, Carmel High School coach, has won four state crowns, three with Warren Central and one with Carmel, and formerly led the Noblesville High School team. Younger brother Travis is a Frankfort High School assistant coach. Cheri Hune is Sheridan assistant athletic director. Another sister Lana McHugh still lives in Sheridan with her family.
The Wrights were selected as one of three group finalists in the contest (there is a separate voting for three individuals). National voting continues until Jan. 5 on togetherwemakefootball.com.
In the video, the family members describe how football has helped the family continued to move on after the loss of their mother Jayne, who committed suicide in 2003 after years of battling depression.
“Dad got all the fame and the glory but mom kept the family together,” Kent said. “She was the glue that kept us all together.”
Kevin said the family wanted to make sure the story served as a tribute to both parents. All coaches’ wives make sacrifices. Kevin said his mother was always on the go, doing things not only for her five children but Sheridan players.
“I told how she used to run the concession stand and do the laundry for the team,” Kevin said. “She was there 24/7. We knew she was dealing with (depression) throughout. But it’s one of those things you don’t understand fully when (you) don’t see the typical signs. She was so wrapped up as a mom, as a coach’s wife and as a mom to other kids on my dad’s teams.”
Both Kent and Kevin said they have received calls and e-mails thanking them for being up front about their mother’s depression. At the time of her suicide, it was hard for the family to address.
“As time goes on, it’s something that has been easier to talk about and we felt that it’s a story that needed to be told,” Kevin said. “There’s a lot of people in similar situations.”
In the video, Bud is seen talking to himself before each game, but he is actually talking to his late wife.
“It helps him get through it,” Kevin said.
Sheridan’s gymnasium was full for his mother’s funeral. But after the community’s outpouring of love, the family had to deal with the loss of family’s central figure.
“After the funeral, it’s kind of what is going to keep us together as a family because there is a lot of guilt there (for not seeing the signs) — all of us, my dad as much as anyone,” Kevin said. “Football is the one thing that brings you back together, year after year, season after season. The most communication we all have is doing football season. It’s kind of like it is portrayed in the video, on Friday nights you are looking to see how everyone did.
“It’s hard when you lose the centerpiece of your whole family and has been that your whole life. So what does keep you together — football has been that for us.”