It was by no means an easy decision for the prominent Whatcom County coaching figure, but Mark Wright is headed back to the Bellingham girls’ basketball program.
Wright will vacate his position with the Squalicum girls and take over for Ed Wissing, who coached the Red Raiders the past two seasons. The announcement came from Bellingham athletic director Chad Larsen on Monday, March 30.
“The fit and timing of his return could not have come at a better phase,” Larsen said in an email. “He loves working with kids and is passionate about our success at Bellingham High. We feel very fortunate that a candidate with his experience, qualifications and connection to the school emerged through this process.”
During his time with the Storm, Wright finished 21-59 over four seasons, failing to make the postseason all four years.
“The timing was really hard for me,” Wright said in a phone interview. “I feel like we had just established ourselves over at Squalicum. ... We were starting to move things in the right direction and had some really fun players coming back.”
He’ll take over a Red Raiders’ team that went 4-16 last year and also failed to make the postseason.
“I think the Bellingham program is ripe to have some energy thrown at it,” Wright said.
Wright took the job in large part because his daughter will soon be attending Bellingham High School and because he saw a team that lacked excitement and the only way he knew how to help was to do it himself, he said.
It’ll be somewhat of a reunion for Wright, as he headed the Bellingham girls’ team from 2000-2007 before taking over the boys’ team in 2008. He remained there for four seasons before departing for the Squalicum girls’ team.
Wright also is plenty familiar with the faces at Bellingham High School — he coaches the girls’ soccer team and teaches there.
That familiarity should help Wright generate excitement about the Red Raiders’ girls’ basketball team.
“I have a good relationship with a lot of the kids I coach. Already some of those kids I have coached committed to me that they’ll play basketball,” Wright said. “I’m hoping my being at the school and showing interest in them being there should help. I’m of the many personalities at Bellingham High School. Hopefully my personality is enough that kids that are wondering whether they should play or not will come play.”
While there’s plenty to be excited about with Bellingham’s program, Wright said he’ll miss Squalicum and always be pulling for the Storm.
“Last summer for the first time in awhile at Squalicum, the girls committed to me and to themselves. We went to a Gonzaga team camp and came together as a group,” Wright said. “The girls and I were really close. That’s what made it difficult. They’re important people to me. ... They’ll continue to mean a lot to me and I’ll continue to be interested in how they progress.”