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alancing her personal life with her career might never have been as challenging for Monica Wright as it was in mid-September. Shortly after beginning her ninth season as Otterbein University women’s volleyball coach, Wright was away from her team—normally the last thing she would want to happen. While the Cardinals were winning all four of their matches Sept. 11 and 12 at the Catholic University of America Tournament in Washington, D.C., Wright stayed back in Westerville with the junior varsity team, talking strategy over the phone as graduate assistant Dee Glass coached the varsity squad. It was a necessary decision considering she was in the final month of pregnancy with her first child. She gave birth to a son, Warren Wright IV, on Sept. 19 and was back coaching Sept. 23 when the Cardinals faced Heidelberg University in an Ohio Athletic Conference match. “I don’t want to take off for two weeks,” Wright said several days before the baby was born. “(I’m planning to) be at practice and games for the rest of the season. The girls are excited. I have 20some babysitters lined up, so that makes things easier.” Wright never has let complex situations slow her down. She took over a program in 2007 that previously had struggled to find consistent success, and has become the most successful coach in Otterbein women’s volleyball history. The Cardinals made the NCAA Division III tournament each year from 2010-13 and opened this season by winning seven of their first nine matches. Wright, a 2001 Newark Catholic High School graduate, moved to Westerville when she took over at Otterbein for her first head-coaching job. She has lived in the Uptown area the last three years. Her husband, Bobby Wright, is a 2007 Otterbein graduate. They’ve been married since December 2014. “My husband is a graduate of here and we joke that he loves this place more than I do,” Wright says. “He likes me working at Otterbein almost more than I do.” In late August, Cardinals players held a baby shower for their coach. “I look forward to bringing this new baby into such a great community of support. My family, as well as my husband’s family, are extremely supportive and they’re both local, and everything about the Otterbein community makes me more excited to have this baby, especially since we live a block away.”

A Competitive Background Although Wright grew up playing a number of sports, her focus began to turn to volleyball in high school. Being part of a Newark Catholic program with a history of success had a big influence on that decision. The Green Wave has won eight state championships in volleyball and was state runnerup when Wright was a freshman in 1997. The team also made it to a state semifinal with Wright, whose maiden name is McDonald, when she was an outside hitter during her junior season in 1999. Newark Catholic’s current coach, Jeri Helfer, took over in 2000 during Wright’s senior season. Wright’s roots in Westerville go back even further, however. She grew up competing for the Westerville Volleyball Club under former Westerville South High School coach Bob Price. “My junior year we made it to the final four, so that was exciting,” Wright says. “I actually only played varsity there my junior and senior years. They were really, really good when I was there and I was kind of a late developer. I was (5-foot-4) for a long time.” Her sister, 2006 Newark Catholic graduate Meredith McDonald, helped the Green Wave win its last state title in 2004. “My little sister does have a championship ring and she actually works at Newark Catholic, so that’s a little bit of a source of tension,” Wright says with a laugh. Wright has two other siblings. Younger brother Stephen McDonald, a 2004 Newark Catholic graduate, competed in football, wrestling and track before playing football for the University of Dayton. He’s now defensive coordinator for the Kettering Fairmont High School football team. “Newark Catholic in and of itself has a culture of discipline, a culture of winning and I think it keeps young kids interested and motivated,” Wright says. “The success is addictive maybe, so I attribute it to the intensity of the programs we grew up with. That’s when more of the focus (in girls volleyball) was on high school than on club. Most of my love of the game came through high school athletics. “The most important thing was that my parents really never pushed us. We were always playing for ourselves when we were younger. My brother and I chose to continue on (to college), and I really think it was great parenting, which is why I’m not burnt out. I was practicing because I wanted to.”

“She is super laid-back but she knows when to get down to business. She’s one of those people you can talk to.” senior Volleyball Player Kasey White

Finding Her Passion Wright had no idea when she began her college playing career at Wittenberg University that she’d

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By Jarrod Ulrey | Photos by Chris Parker

Westerville365 | Fall 2015

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Profile for The Columbus Dispatch

Westerville365 Fall 2015  

Westerville365 Fall 2015

Westerville365 Fall 2015  

Westerville365 Fall 2015