Wright waves goodbye

Head volleyball coach steps down from position for new opportunity

Isabella Tranello, Sports Editor

Illustration by Gabrialla Cockerell

Goodbyes are hard, but they are even more difficult when strong memories have been built. 

Over the last five years, the Seattle Pacific University volleyball team has done just that with former head coach Abbie Wright. Although many are sad to see Wright leave SPU, a grand opportunity is on the horizon for Wright. 

Wright will soon be trading in the gloomy rain of Seattle for the sunny skies of Fresno, California. 

On Monday, February 28, it was announced that Wright was stepping down from her position to take an associate head coach position at Fresno State University under Head Coach Jonathan Winder. She will also be working alongside assistant coach Hardy Wooldridge when she makes the transition for the 2022 season.

Fresno State is an NCAA Division I school in the Mountain West Athletic Conference. The shift in competition level may be a tough adjustment for Wright as a coach, but she is used to obtaining achievements of high profile. 

Before coming to SPU, Wright was an assistant coach for the Biola University volleyball team, which was her alma mater. She played for the volleyball team when she was enrolled at the university and still holds records with the school. She has the record for most matches played, most sets played and the most service aces. 

She graduated from Biola in 2010, only to return in 2013 to coach. During her time coaching at Biola, Wright helped the program achieve its first-ever No. 1 national ranking and earned herself the AVCA/NAIA Southwest Region and National Assistant Coach of the Year Award in 2016. 

In the 2021 season at SPU, under Wright’s coaching, sophomore middle blocker Hannah Hair became SPU’s first All-American volleyball player since 2011. Hair became only the sixth volleyball player in history at SPU to be recognized as an All-American athlete. 

Wright also has secured a total of 65 wins for the Falcons in her time as head coach at SPU. She left the team with a 2021 record of 15-10 and guided the team to place fourth in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. 

Now that Wright has left for California, the next step for the SPU athletic department and the volleyball program is to find a new coach. 

SPU Athletic Director Jackson Stava expressed that the search for a new coach has begun and that while Wright has left a gap in the program, someone new must fill it. 

We will now move into a process of searching for a new coach.  While we know we need to identify a new leader for the program, I am very excited about the culture of the team and the stability I know a new coach will be walking into,” Stava said. 

Stava also believes that Wright has left the team in incredible shape for the 2022 fall season and whoever steps into the role will have great young athletes to work with. Wright will be missed, but the team will continue to grow and thrive regardless. 

“Obviously we are always disappointed when a coach leaves, but I am grateful for Abbie’s work over the past five years. The team is in a wonderful place,” Stava said. “They are a group of young women who are talented, poised, resilient and locked in as a group.  I believe they have a very high ceiling, not only on the court but as a group of people as well.”