The row of stitches on Rachel Wright’s head tells where she’s been.
But Wright provides the clues on where she’s bound.
“I want to be ready for the season,” Wright said.
Wright, the La Costa Canyon High School softball coach, was thrown a curve ball the day after Easter. A brain tumor rocked her world and knocked her down, but not out.
“I want to stay in softball,” Wright stressed. “And I’m slowly coming along.”
There’s nothing wrong with how North County’s softball community, and others, rallied around Wright. She’s not only the Mavericks’ coach, but she also provides backslaps and guidance to countless teenagers on club teams.
“She’s like really understanding with everyone,” said Julianna Wilkens, 15. “She’s patient with the players.”
Now Wright is easing into returning to the diamond. Despite not being at full strength, she going to workouts and is looking toward LCC’s next season.
Wright has had two surgeries in her four visits to the hospital since suffering a seizure. She’s soon starting another round of chemotherapy and radiation.
But her voice is strong and filled with positive thoughts. It sounds like someone continuing her fight rather than reaching for a white flag.
After turning 32 in the hospital, Wright is eager to turn the page on her life-changing event that she didn’t see coming.
“I had no idea,” said Wright, an Encinitas resident. “I’ve been an athlete my whole life and then a coach. As a player you play through things and sometimes there are some long days as a coach.”
Then there’s the night she won’t forget when she had a seizure that had her boyfriend reaching for the phone. He dialed 9-1-1 and the couple’s life hasn’t been the same.
“I had never even had headaches,” she said. “It was crazy.”
The majority of tumor was removed and subsequent tests show the procedure was a success. She still has a long road ahead, but others are trying their best to make it a smooth path.
Recently the La Costa 35 Athletic Club honored her at its Sunday softball games. Wright was surprised she was invited and battled tears when presented with a check to defray some of her medical costs.
“I didn’t know anybody there and they really didn’t know me,” she said.
But those men, from age 35 to 87, had something in common with Wright. They hold softball dear to their hearts and they showed how big theirs was when passing the cap.
While some are challenged to sprint down the baseline, they sprang into action when learning of Wright’s predicament.
“When we heard about what happened, we wanted to help,” LC35AC president Steve Collo said.
What Wright gleaned from the afternoon was more than some dough. She was introduced to senior-style softball and she said watching it was a hoot.
“Even though they are a little older they want to keep playing and having fun,”’ Wright said. “That’s what softball is all about.”
Wright was a standout at LCC and Palomar College. She took pride in her game and feels the same when shaping players looking to improve.
“I tell them you have to work hard to get something,” Wright said. “That’s the way it was for me and it’s the way it has always been.”
Wright’s sermons have heft but they come with a deft touch.
“Rachel is always so supportive on and off the field,” said Ryan Baillargeon, 14. “She shares her love for softball with us and to push ourselves and to do better.”
Wright is making strides and that’s the main pitch of this story. But medical aid doesn’t come cheaply and those wishing to assist can.
Encinitas’ St. Mark Lutheran Church is accepting contributions at http://www.stmarkchurch.net.
“She’s always our cheerleader,” Baillargeon said. “Now it’s our turn to be hers.”
Contact Jay Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @jparis_sports.
Top: La Costa Canyon High softball coach Rachel Wright, right, was presented with a check by Steve Collo, the La Costa 35 Athletic Club president, to help defray her medical costs as she rebounds from brain surgery. Photo by Jay Paris
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports