BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – Bearcat senior Aly Wright is just the latest member of her family to play high school basketball.
“My brother played and my dad played for John Battle,” she said.
And while she enjoyed growing up with dad as her coach, it was her teammates that always brought her back to the court.
“They’re my best friends so it’s just extra time you get to spend with your friends,” she explained. “It’s memories that you can’t create in the classroom.”
Basketball also allowed Wright to escape from the stress of the every-day.
“I don’t have to think about whatever else is going on in my life,” she said. “It’s just like a break from that.”
Committing to the Lady Bearcats as a freshman was definitely an adjustment from middle school ball.
“The time I spent outside of practice increased a ton with film and ice baths – just recovery days and all that sort of stuff,” Wright said.
But, she saw it through all the way to the end of her senior season this past winter. The program won just a handful of games in 2022-23, however, Wright came into her own as a shooter.
She tied the record for three-pointers made in a game and set the new Virginia High record for threes in a season.
“It was probably my best year, personally,” she said.
And yet, Wright has chosen to continue her athletic career at the University of Pikeville – not on the hardwood – but on the pitch.
“I really had no interest in soccer until my freshman year – one of my friends convinced me to go to tryouts with her instead of going to track practice – and I did and then I fell in love with it,” she recalled.
She was drawn to its slightly more forgiving nature, compared to hoops.
“In basketball, once you turn the ball over, they’re getting a point off of it,” she said. “But, in soccer – even if you lose the ball you still have a chance to just get it right back. I feel like you can correct your mistakes easier.”
Wright first tried out as a goalkeeper, but soon, her coach unlocked a secret weapon.
“Everybody else got to run at the end of practice and he didn’t make me run – and I love running,” she said. “So, then once he realized how much I love running, he let me play offense.”
Wright has helped the Bearcats shoot their way into back-to-back VHSL Class 2 state tournaments. She hopes to make it three-consecutive trips by the end of the spring.
“We’re new – we have a lot of new players, but I think it’s good because you can do a lot of shaping and building,” she said. “I have high expectations for us.”
Along with playing soccer at Pikeville, Wright plans to pursue a degree in early childhood education.
“I’ve always loved kids, but then I took an after school position at Washington-Lee (Elementary) here and realized just how much I enjoy actually teaching them,” she said.
“I’ve been blessed to have good parents and a good home life – and seeing other kids and students that don’t have that – I think being a teacher would give me a chance to balance that out for students because they spend as much time with their teachers as they do at home.”