The Uwharrie Wampus Cats, the new collegiate wood-bat baseball team playing at Albemarle’s Don Montgomery Park this summer, will be coached by Catawba Valley Community College hitting coach Houston Wright.
Wright played on top regional summer collegiate teams while a player in college, including with the Lexington (SC) Blowfish and Forest City Owls of the Coastal Plain League, as well as the Edenton Steamers. In college, Wright was an outfielder for Division 1 University of Tennessee-Martin and was an All-American player at Spartanburg Methodist College. Wright took some time to reflect on what makes summer baseball such a formative part of the college baseball experience and what fans in the Albemarle and Uwharrie area can expect to see this summer.
You’re currently on a college coaching staff at one of the top JUCO programs in the country. What’s that been like so far and what’s it like to know you’ll have your first head coaching opportunity this summer?
Coaching at Catawba Valley Community College has already helped me become a better coach. I didn't know what to expect going in eight months ago, but it’s been a great experience. I never thought I would be a head coach this early in my career but I crossed paths with (team owner) Greg Sullivan, and now I’ve got this great opportunity in Albemarle. This summer I will be learning in some ways just like the players, but I'm really excited!
Fans in the area may have experience following high school and Legion ball and teams like the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers and Charlotte Knights. What kind of baseball can they expect to see this summer with this new team?
They can expect to see very competitive baseball. With this being a first-year team, we will all be a part of something new here. But I can't wait to see all the fans and the atmosphere that’s going to be brought into Don Montgomery Park.
During the process of the Wampus Cats' roster being built, what's been your early sense of baseball in Albemarle and the area around it?
My sense of baseball around the Albemarle area is that there is there is lots of baseball talent. It seems like 98% of our roster are players from within a short drive of Albemarle, and they’re very good players. We have players from around Charlotte, the Piedmont Triad and also from Stanly County. The team should click right away because the players all know each other.
The team will start play in late May. Is there anything you’re looking most forward to when the team takes the field and people meet these guys for the first time?
I’m looking forward to seeing how the team meshes, and my job is to make sure they are competing at their very best!
For summer ball, as a coach you just put them together and when they click with each other we will be a very good ball club! I’m excited to see what this summer holds for the 2023 Uwharrie Wampus Cats.
The Uwharrie Wampus Cats' inaugural season runs from late May through late July.