CALCUTTA - Beaver Local lost the longest tenured coach in the school's history on Monday when Rich Wright resigned his post as the head football coach after 14 seasons.
The board of education unanimously accepted Wright's resignation at Monday's meeting.
"Sometimes, it's not all about wins and losses in sports," board member Brian McKenzie said at the meeting. "Coach Wright got a lot out of these kids, more so than I think many believed they had themselves."
For Wright, 44, the decision was a difficult one.
"It's been like a funeral all day," he said. "I'm not going to lie, there's been some tears shed. There's a lot of things in this world more tragic than not coaching football, but it's still a sad day for me."
The 1986 East Liverpool graduate said he will now pursue a career as a principal after earning his degree in school administration from Franciscan University.
"I have some opportunities on the horizon for me now, and it's never a good time to step down, but I felt it wouldn't have been fair to wait until June or July," he said. "There's some jobs opening and some deadlines coming up. I know it takes some time to get the process going."
Wright began his coaching career at Beaver Local at just 22 years old when he took over the wrestling program. In 1998 he replaced Ron Suran as the head football coach.
Over 14 season, Wright posted a record of 83-66 as head coach which included six appearances in the state playoffs.
Wright also had many players continue their football careers at the college level, highlighted by Derek Wolfe who received a scholarship at the University of Cincinnati before being drafted by the Denver Broncos in the NFL Draft in April.
"His attitude was always students first, athletes second," Beaver Local Superintendent Kent Polen said. "He wanted to see his athletes get into college, and he did a good job there."
While Wright said he will always be a coach at heart, he admitted that lately his mind has been focused on other possibilities.
"I've been thinking about curriculum and raising the bar academically for students, not just diagramming plays," he said. "Obviously, I'm going to miss coaching football. It will be a struggle, but I've got some opportunities to do some other things I'm excited about."
According to Wright, who began pursuing his masters degree in 2008, the opportunity to become a school administrator will provide him with new challenges that football alone couldn't provide.
"I felt like football was something that could change the morale of the school," he said. "I got into coaching because I wanted to be a part of that. I think, as an administrator, I can have an even bigger role and a bigger part in the success of all students. I think I'll be able to affect the lives of even more students this way. If I can go into a school and help turn things around that would be very fulfilling to me."
Wright, the father of two girls ages 6 and 7, will now also have more time to spend with his family without the demands of coaching.
"I coached two sports together for 10 years," Wright, who is also the school's longest tenured wrestling coach, said. "But for seven of those year's I didn't have any kids. My wife has always been supportive, and still is, but my kids are starting to be involved in more activities and this will allow me a little more time to see them."
While Wright isn't sure that football coaching will be in his future, he said he does plan to stay involved in the game.
"I've got a lot of former players out there who will still keep me involved in the game," Wright said. "I loved being Coach Wright, and I wouldn't change what I've experienced here for anything. But it took a toll on me to get that degree while teaching and coaching and being a parent. I've got some new opportunities out there and I might as well put it to good use."
(Reveiw staff writer Richard Sberna contributed to this story)