An interview by Brogan Louden
Prior to becoming recognized as one of the top contenders for the United States on the international scene at 61 kg/134 lbs., Brandon Wright was a household name in the Indiana and Iowa wrestling community.
In high school, Wright was a four-time state finalist, winning two IHSSA state titles for Warren Central. After high school, Wright began his collegiate career competing for Iowa Central Community College. During his freshman season, in 2011, he was able to capture a third-place finish at the NJCAA Championships at 133 lbs. Similarly, the following year, Wright was able to capture another All-American honor with a runner-up finish at the NJCAA Championships.
Following his sophomore season, Brandon transferred to Grand View University. During the 2013 season he was able to utilize a redshirt year. However, Wright would go on to compete and finish second place at the University Nationals. After a year gap from collegiate competition, Brandon was able to pick right back up where he left off. In his junior and senior seasons, he collected back-to-back NAIA national titles for Grand View in 2014 and 2015 at 141 lbs.
A historic college career set Wright up for continued success at the senior level. In 2016, he finished fourth at the Last Chance Olympic Qualifier. Brandon was able to find continuing success, finishing second in the US Open and third in the US World Team Trials in 2017. He was also a member of the 2017-18 US National Team.
In addition to competing, Wright also spent time as an assistant coach at Grand View during the 2016-17 season. Following his time there, he joined Division 1 program, Indiana University as a volunteer assistant while becoming their first RTC athlete.
Today Brandon runs his own wrestling club; WrightWay Wrestling. The club offers year-round training to wrestlers of all ages and skill levels and serves to helping build winners on and off the wrestling mat. Here’s what Brandon had to say about joining the Chain Wrestling team and his experience as a wrestler and club owner.
Q: Why did you decide to team up with Chain Wrestling?
A: I loved the innovation of Chain working with multiple athletes from young to old. I wanted to do something different with a brand-to-brand collaboration so WrightWay could spread its name and impact.
Q: How did you get your start in wrestling and when did you decide to fully dedicate yourself to the sport?
A: My father, Tim Wright Sr., was the first four-time NCAA Champion ever. It was Division II in 1983, and he was my biggest inspiration to scrap. I decided around 14 years old when I attended Cathedral High School. I knew wrestling would be my vehicle to success in other outlets in life.
Q: After high school, what colleges did you consider and what ultimately went into your decision to go to Iowa Central and then Grand View?
A: I was signed to Indiana University, and due to low test scores, I failed to pass the clearing house requirements. This resulted in me forfeiting my scholarship. I was eligible for Division II, but fell in love with Iowa wrestling culture. Iowa Central was the dominant JUCO school to go to, so that's where I went. After my two years, I visited Grand View. I was convinced it was for me. Mitchell and Reedy had a strong will to win. I believed in their vision which brought me in.
Q: How much of an impact did your father have on your career? Do you believe that he helped really mold your values and work ethic from a young age that allowed you to excel throughout your career and life in general?
A: My father has been my biggest inspiration. He has been a backbone for Indianapolis wrestling for the last 20 years. Every son wants to be like their father. I always wanted to be better. Yes, my father was a great technician, but overall, a mental coach. He prepared me for what was to come. He warned me of my bad choices, but never controlled me. He always let me make my choices and live with them.
Q: When did you decide that you wanted to become a coach and help mentor youth wrestlers?
A: During my time at Grand View, I went to VWC with a former alum, Ty Knowler. Doing random private lessons with middle school kids after practice, turned into a top club in Des Moines. I knew I had caught the coaching bug.
Q: Do you believe that running your own club while continuing to compete has given you an edge, in the sense that you are able to continue to grow and learn from your younger athletes as well?
A: Yes, I really feel that I am able to live what I am preaching to my athletes. Coaching makes you so much more critical on yourself. I believe the pros outweigh the cons. I love the process I’m currently in.
Q: What is the primary message/philosophy that you try and instill in the younger athletes who attend WrightWay Wrestling Club?
A: I always remind my wrestlers in order to get the most out of yourself in wrestling, you have to love it. You have to be in love with the grind. With social media, kids have a hard time understanding the delayed gratification. We promote that patience is power to accomplishing a goal.
Q: What is the most enjoyable part about being able to coach these younger wrestlers and build relationships with them? How does it make you feel when you are able to experience and see your athletes achieve their goals and find success?
A: The most enjoyable part is witnessing growth and seeing boys turn into men. It’s a blessing to be part of the development. It’s an overwhelming feeling when you see a wrestler accomplish goals. As coaches, we have not yet succeeded until our athletes succeed first. It’s a moment of joy, in a nutshell.
Q: What kind of atmosphere do you try and cultivate for your athletes? Have you been able to take what you’ve experienced throughout your career and tailor that to build a stronger community?
A: I try to create the most authentic environment possible. Nothing is perfect, except for the effort. I’m hands-on with my athletes. I don’t just bark orders; I show and tell. This motivates them to ultimately push themselves. Yes, I have been able to take what I've learned and apply it to to build a stronger community. thus far. I know there is much more for me to accomplish. I'll finetune and continue to adjust as we expand and grow.
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About the author: Brogan Louden
Brogan Louden, a 2022 graduate of Shippensburg University, is from the great state of Pennsylvania. Growing up his entire life surrounded by some of the best wrestling in the nation, he quickly discovered his strong passion and love for the sport. Now, he is looking to pursue a career in wrestling media to help bring more awareness and excitement to the sport.