High school sports is the pinnacle of life for a lot of people — not necessarily the best time of their lives, but the time when all the stress of the world are mostly absent or have yet to fully show themselves.
It brings vastly different people together for a common goal of winning, but teaches invaluable lessons of life, friendship and more. In some places, like Lebanon High School, tradition is a major component of high school sports.
For me, one of the best traditions took place inside the Old Lebanon High School gymnasium before basketball games. Cheerleaders and dancers would make a tunnel from the boys’ locker room to the court.
For me, I knew where certain people would be — Bill Cook or Dallus Whitfield would be somewhere along the baselines, my mother would be in the cheering section diagonal from the locker room, Blue Devil radio announcers (Clyde Harville, Randall Hutto, Jon Boyce and others) would be above the open section of the gym above the coaches’ offices.
To the right of the tunnel, stationed right next to the outside doors at the bottom of the steps adjacent to the locker room would be David Wright in his Wilson County Sheriffs Office uniform.
As traditional as the walk to and from the little gym before games, Wright’s position in the gym was set. Sometimes, depending on which way we entered the gym before games, he was the first person we saw holding the door open for us.
When I think back to my high school sports playing days, Wright was always there, whether driving the bus or watching the games, even when he didn’t drive the bus to the game.
Of course, there were times when we acted like high school kids and acted a little out of character, but Wright was quick to point that it wouldn’t be tolerated on his watch. His calm, quiet demeanor did not mean he was a pushover, something I saw a lot of students fail to realize.
I don’t know how he drove a school bus for 50 years. That dedication just showcases the amount of love and admiration for students because I wouldn’t last 50 minutes with a busload of rowdy children screaming behind me while I’m trying to focus on driving.
But he was there for a reason. Some of us may never know why he was there or what it meant for our lives, but for me, he was a piece of making high school sports memorable for me.
Of the two dozen or so high school basketball stories that I vividly remember, Wright was a key figure in at least two of them.
So, Mr. Wright, thank you for your sacrifice and service to myself and countless others you encountered throughout your life.
Our words will never be enough for what you deserve.
Xavier Smith is a reporter for The Wilson Post and a former Lebanon High School basketball player.