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Saints stay in Suffolk for new head coach

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy has hired former King’s Fork assistant coach Clint Wright to be its new varsity boys basketball coach.

Wright follows Franklin Chatman, who coached the Saints for the past two seasons before accepting the head coaching job for the men’s team at Newport News Apprentice School in June.

It’s a perfect link for Wright, who hopes to make it a transition that actually isn’t much of a change for NSA.

Prior to coaching at King’s Fork, Wright was an assistant for Chatman at Nansemond River while the Warriors won four straight Southeastern District titles.

The Saints were 16-32 during the previous two seasons. Wright comes from a Bulldog program that’s reached the Group AAA State Tournament three straight seasons and won the state title in 2008-09.

Wright looks at his new position as building on what Chatman started.

“When I heard Frankie took the job at Apprentice, I started pondering, what if? The location is ideal. With the quality of the school academically, and the quality of the athletes here, I knew a lot of people would be interested in the position,” Wright said.

“The foundation’s already been laid. Frankie’s done a great job. The record doesn’t depict the success he had. A lot of times for a coach, you can look at how well the kids played, how competitive they were,” Wright said. “To have a losing season and have all of the kids come back says a lot about the coach, the kids and the direction a program’s going.”

Wright played at John Yeates High School, graduating in 1987. He went on to play four seasons at Norfolk State, including on NSU’s 1990 CIAA championship team under head coach Charles Christian.

“(Christian’s) defensive mentality is still something I continue to employ in all the team’s I’ve coached,” Wright said.

Wright’s coached AAU teams around the region and Pop Warner football, including for the Nansemond Suffolk Pop Warner organization, which is based at NSA.

“So there are a lot of familiar faces for me and my son, Derek, because of Pop Warner football at NSA,” Wright said.

Derek Wright graduated this June from King’s Fork and was a basketball and football standout, including on the state title basketball team. Derek is headed to Towson University on a football scholarship starting this fall.

This past year as head coach of KF’s JV basketball team, Wright led the Bulldogs to a 17-2 record.

“Josh gave me the opportunity. It was a tremendous responsibility to work with the big guys and to be the head coach of the JV team,” Wright said.

“Both Josh and Frankie have prepared me to be a head coach,” Wright said.

“A lot of the things Frankie does, I have taken from him and I do myself, from the way I want a team to defend, to the tone I try to have and the persistence, in practice and on the sideline,” Wright said.

Building excitement for the sport is right up there with Xs and Os. Wright’s confident he’s the best coach for the job in this category, too.

“The enthusiasm at King’s Fork around basketball, I often have called it a basketball Mecca,” Wright said. Wright’s had more than 70 kids try out for his 15 JV roster spots in past years.

“I have a lot of energy and love for the game. I’ll take those same things to NSA,” Wright said.