Cleveland sportswriter and alumni network leader brings ‘Wright stuff’
Branson Wright‘s sports journalism career has taken him from UC’s News Record to northeastern Ohio working for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where he still manages to keep a close eye on Bearcats Athletics. He’s also helping keep fellow alumni connected as the new co-leader of the UC Alumni Association’s Cleveland Alumni Network.
Like virtually all alumni, Branson Wright’s professional path was altered at UC, where the aspiring sportswriter leveraged every opportunity available to make his career dreams come true.
“I grew up in Silverton in suburban Cincinnati — right across the street from [major league baseball player] Buddy Bell,” Wright says. “My dad wanted me to go to UC, but I wanted to see other places and ended up going to West Virginia. After a couple years and diminishing funds, I had to leave. An adviser at WVU suggested I go home, enroll at UC for a while, then return to Morgantown. That was my plan.”
But when Wright got to UC and started to work for The News Record, he saw that sports editor Angelique Chengelis, who now covers the University of Michigan for the Detroit News, was about to graduate. “I was ‘next in line’ and decided to stay, and that changed everything for me,” he said.
The News Record promotion helped open doors — from internships, to relationships with people in athletics, to invaluable mentoring from faculty and staff such as Eric Abercrumbie and Ken Simonson. “They knew about my dream to be a sportswriter and urged me to stay focused.”
As a result, Wright covered and became friends with many fellow Bearcats, including basketball player and future UC Alumni Association executive director Myron Hughes, who recently asked Wright to volunteer with the Cleveland Alumni Network.
While Cashmere Wright is dishing out assists for the basketball Bearcats these days, Branson Wright (no relation) notched an unofficial assist on one of the biggest buckets in UC hoops history. The first game ever played in Fifth Third Arena saw new coach Bob Huggins’ undermanned UC team beat 20th-ranked Minnesota 66-64 on a three-point buzzer-beater by Steve Sanders, a Cleveland native who had just joined the team largely on the advice Wright offered to both coach and player.
“Steve’s team of football players was my intramural basketball team’s biggest rivals — they would always beat us in the championships,” Wright recalls. “When Huggins showed up, he needed players and announced he would hold tryouts. I told him, ‘You need to look at Steve Sanders.’ Steve had completed his football eligibility, and I encouraged him to try out. So I take credit.”
When he’s not writing for the newspaper, Wright works on a film project about Dwight Anderson, a Dayton, Ohio, basketball legend who went on to play at both Kentucky and Southern California but never realized his vast potential due to a string of bad choices and personal problems. Working without a budget for three years now, Wright hopes to assemble the film in the near future.
Meanwhile, he’s bringing new energy to Cleveland-area Bearcats. Wright helped organize the most recent Crosstown Shootout game watch and hopes to come up with some creative new ways for Cleveland alums to reconnect with UC and one another. He welcomes help from other volunteers.
“I’m putting out the word — we’re looking for more involvement and some fresh ideas.”
Cleveland-area alumni can reach Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.