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Boiling Springs wrestling coach will return in January, board votes

Updated: Tuesday, October 8 2013, 12:07 PM CDT
Reported by: James Tully

SOUTH MIDDLETON -- A drug paraphernalia charge will not keep a district champion wrestling coach away from the mat for this upcoming season.

The South Middleton School Board voted Monday night to renew the contract of Rodney Wright, who has coached the Boiling Springs program for 11 seasons.

Wright did not attend the meeting. He remains on leave from Boiling Springs High School after police found a pipe with traces of marijuana at his home earlier this year.

In the midst of a divorce, Wright's wife called police and informed them about the pipe. Wright denied it was his and claimed it belonged to his stepson.

Since leaving, Wright has received overwhelming support from parents and wrestlers he's coached, many of them who attended the board meeting Monday. 

"We had a difficult situation that had to be resolved, we came to a mutually agreeable resolution and now it’s time to move on and do great things," school board president Tom Merle said.

In 11 years, Wright had coached the program to several district championships, but Merle was quick to dismiss the idea that that had anything to do with the board's decision to bring Wright back.

"No, this is an educational institution we don’t make decisions based on win and loss records," he said.

In January, in the midst of a divorce, Wright's wife called police to their home where they found a pipe with traces of marijuana in it.  Wright has said the pipe belonged to his stepson, but was still charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

Wright's girlfriend, Kim Hurley, was at the meeting supporting Wright and also as a parent of a wrestler herself. "I know that Rodney has really been overwhelmed (by the support) with the amount of parents, wrestlers, former wrestlers, even people out of the district," she said.

Another parent, Tom Crum, called Wright a good educator and commented that him not getting the opportunity to coach again would be the wrong thing to do. Crum says Wright has had such a positive impact that without Wright back as coach his son wouldn't have returned to the team. 

"He’s going to be ecstatic to hear that Coach Wright is back and he’s going to be his coach this year, (he) can’t wait to get it started," Crum added.

Wright's contract renewal is effective on Jan. 1, 2014, so he will still miss at least six weeks of the upcoming wrestling season. Hurley says that Wright is still pursuing acceptance into an ARD program that would expunge the charges from his record.
Boiling Springs wrestling coach will return in January, board votes

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