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By Steve Andrews | Photos by Sadie Rucker 

Senior Drew Wright fondly remembers his first year playing organized baseball in the Bentonville youth leagues some 10 years ago. He played for a coach that had known him his entire life – literally. 

His mom, Robin, took on that task for just one year, until she decided to just sit back and watch her little boy grow into an athletic 6-foot-3, 195-pound young man. Sports has forever been a family affair in the Wright household. 

Drew has had the luxury of being raised by two former Division I athletes, as his mom played basketball and softball for the University of Arkansas, while his father pitched for the baseball team before embarking on a Major League Baseball career.

“It’s been pretty awesome because I’ve got some great mentors to look up to,” Drew said. “My dad has taught me everything he knows about the game of baseball. He has taught me a lot of fundamental and technical things about the game. He’s basically taught me the game of baseball, inside out.

“And my mom who has taught me the work ethic that I have to have to be a Division I athlete. One thing she has always taught me is to keep working hard even when no one is watching.”


Growing up playing a variety of sports, Drew has excelled as a two-sport athlete at Bentonville. Over the past four years, he has spent his fall seasons as a quarterback for the Tigers’ football team, before hitting the diamond in the spring, pitching and playing first base for the baseball team.

It has been a challenge at times, but he has been able to maintain high academic standards while balancing the two fields of play. But, on the field, the approach to playing has its differences.

“There’s actually a lot of difference between throwing a baseball and a football, particularly with the arm motion,” he said. “I’d love to be able to throw a football as good as I can throw a baseball.

“Baseball is a lot more laid back than football. In football, everything is always uptight. It’s a game where you have to run specific plays and be precise in what you do. With baseball it’s just going out and playing like a little kid, making plays when you have the opportunity. That’s the way I like to look at it.”

After leading the Tigers football team to a second-place finish in the 7A-West this season with a 6-1 mark (8-3 overall), he has helped the diamond Tigers compile a 16-8 record. He has an ERA of 2.26, pitching 21 2/3 innings with 27 strikeouts, while hitting .289 with a home run.

“There is a lot of tradition at Bentonville, and I grew up watching them in all sports, so to now have been a part of that has been everything that I dreamed of,” he said. “My experience at Bentonville has been great. Bentonville baseball has taught me a lot and playing up here with Coach (Todd) Abbott for the last three years has been amazing. And playing football for Coach (Jody) Grant has taught me a lot about staying composed and dealing with adversity.”

It’s the intangibles that Drew possesses is what Abbott admires most.

“As a coach, he’s a kid that you really want in your program,” the coach said. “He’s a guy that works hard and is always looking to improve, he’s a good teammate and always there to pick his teammates up. He’s just the definition of a great teammate. If you had a roster full of guys like, you’d never lose a game.”

Dan Wright pitched for Norm DeBriyn and the Arkansas Razorbacks from 1997-99, before being drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the second round of the 1999 MLB Baseball draft. He won 20 games in the majors over four seasons in the Sox organization. He is now an advanced scout for the Philadelphia Phillies.

As a scout, Dan is often on the road during the baseball season and tries to squeeze in as many Bentonville games as he can. But, as a mentor, he is always there for his son.

“I think he benefits from having a mom and a dad who have both been through about anything he will go through in the sporting world – as far as failures, successes and everything in between,” Dan said. “I just try to stay positive with him and not be overly technical. Drew is already pretty analytical, so I’ve learned the best thing to do is just stay positive with him, encourage him, and be there for him if he ever wants to run something by me.

“Whether it be the mechanics of the swing or mechanics pitching, I usually don’t say a lot and just let him come to me. He really is a great kid and a hard worker, so I think he’s going to be successful at whatever he decides to do. As far as baseball, I think he will just continue to work hard and see where it takes him.”

Dan first met then-Robin Alpe in an education class at the University of Arkansas, as both were education majors with an eye on teaching. But the connection really started to flourish at a joint fish fry held for the Razorbacks baseball and softball teams.

“He was sitting across from me and asked ‘Who are you?,” Robin recalls with a laugh. “I told him ‘I’m the girl from class’. And it just went from there.”

After graduating from Bentonville in 1994, Robin was invited to walk on to the Razorbacks basketball team by then-head coach Gary Blair. The following year, the school was organizing a women’s softball team and Blair encouraged her to give it a try as well. Although, she had only played slow-pitch in high school, she quickly adapted to the college fast-pitch game by becoming a slap-hitter for head coach Carie Dever-Boaz. She played the first three years of the program’s existence and looks back proudly at how the program has developed into being one of the best in the country.

“When I get to go now to watch a game in Bogle Park, it makes my heart so happy to see that it has grown so much,” she said. “It’s just such an amazing feeling to see from where I was to where they are now and knowing that I was a part of that foundation.

“Back when we started and would travel to play other SEC schools, we would just play on a community field, not these fancy fields like Bogle Park that they have now. And in Arkansas, we had always played slow-pitch, and this was fast-pitch, so people were loving it.”

To say the competitiveness in the Wright house is intense would be a gross understatement. But it’s all in love and fun.

“It starts with Drew and his dad playing ping-pong,’ Robin said with a laugh. “Then when something comes on like the NCAA basketball tournament, I think I know as much as they do, so we are always competing and picking at one another.

“It’s been so much fun, because we are very competitive at our house. But I love seeing Drew get out and have success on the field. But in sports, you get life lessons sometimes when you don’t have success.”

Drew has committed to play baseball at Labette Community College in Parsons, Kan., next season, then seeing what the future holds. Of course, he would love to follow in his parents’ footsteps and play for the Razorbacks, but he is keeping an open mind and willing to do what is best for himself.

“I would obviously like to play baseball as long as I can,” Drew said. “But I also want to earn a good degree, so when baseball is over, I can carry on with a good career and have a great family to provide for. We’ll just have to wait and see how it goes.”