After enduring the loss of a team member, MSJ Football Captain Anthony Wright achieves academically, spiritually, and athletically with the Heart of a Lion.

Mount St. Joseph University student anthony wright smiling.

MSJ Junior Anthony Wright is working on a Psychology major with a Sports Management minor, looking to study Sports Psychology at the master and doctoral levels. Growing up, Anthony says he was one of the oldest of six children raised by a single mother. His family has been his biggest source of inspiration as he balances his co-op, high GPA while taking 18 credit hours, and his role of captain of the MSJ football team.

“I’ve always been big on leaving a legacy for the ones that look up to me, and without me excelling in athletics, academics, and my position at the Student Resource Center, I’d feel like I’m doing them a disservice,” says Anthony. “I’ve competed with myself to make sure I achieve the goals I have set, but knowing my brothers and family look up to me for inspiration fuels me to keep going.”

After a freshmen year filled with mask mandates, quarantines, and restrictions within the football field and classrooms, Anthony was eager to begin the full extent of his college experience. While his sophomore year began to finally improve for him, the loss he would endure gave him a profound change in perspective.

Sweat, Sacrifice, and Success

At the Mount, Anthony was held to a high standard in football when stepping onto campus as a freshman. Ultimately, his leadership, high spirit, and teamwork led him to be named football team captain his sophomore year in 2021.

“I had to earn my stripes as a captain before gaining that title,” he says. “I was a young starter and it showed at times, but the way I led others toward the end of the year helped with my bid. Over the past two years, I’ve had to adjust my entire playing style to become the player I hope to be.”

Unfortunately, the next year took a devastating turn. On March 6, 2022, the entire Mount community was saddened to hear of the passing of our own Jacob Crabill. Jacob was also an MSJ football player, and his loss impacted the entire team, especially Anthony.

According to Anthony, Jacob was one that never met a stranger and treated everyone as family.

“Ever since his passing, I feel like I’ve become more passionate and have learned to cherish life’s precious people and things,” Anthony reflects. “I know grieving is a time we all need, but I think knowing he would’ve wanted me to carry on and accomplish the goals we set changed my attitude for the better.”

Staying determined, Anthony says, was probably the easiest part of this journey. Soon after Jacob left, he only knew one thing that would help him and the team remember and cherish Jacob’s legacy: a memorable season.  

The team had endured its trials after coming incredibly close to huge wins. They almost won the conference for the past two years, but lost by one game.

“Football was our scapegoat for the life challenges we had. We talked about winning a championship, changing the culture, etc. since the first day of camp, and I knew once he left it was only right to carry on with the goal we set.”

The team’s coaches constantly reminded them that they were playing for more than just a championship, but for the ones who couldn’t.

With the help of his coaches, Anthony continued to challenge himself mentally and physically through workouts. “Grinding with my brothers day in and out made the process easier because we all had the same goals and wouldn’t let anyone else slip up, even if they wanted to.”

On Nov 12, 2022, the MSJ football team took their wins to new heights, finishing their regular season 10-0 and claiming the HCAC Championship where they advanced to the playoffs.

Winning the conference this year felt surreal to the team. Amidst the jumping up and down in triumph, Anthony honors the remembrance of Jacob, who remained on his heart during their win:

“It felt unreal if I’m being honest. I ran through so many emotions once the clock hit a minute and thirty seconds. Excitement, relief, joy, etc. I immediately teared up once the clock ran out because all I could think about was my boy, Jacob. We lost him back in a car wreck during spring break of this year and it’s something the entire team has dealt with, but for me, it hit harder than expected. All I could think about is how we talked about this moment happening. He might not have been there physically, but I could feel his presence with me during that moment.”

“We even got to see coach T smile for the first time in the season,” Anthony laughs. “The entire field was filled with alumni from 10+ years to even graduating seniors from last year; it felt as if we all had won the championship. I think the biggest thing to take from it was how proud everyone was of this program for doing what we should’ve done years ago.”

Mentors are a Shortcut to Winning

Anthony gives a huge shout out to Coach Hopperton and Coach T who tasked him with leadership and accepting accountability in all areas of his career journey. “Coming into the season, they both knew what was at stake and told me earlier on to lead the team both on or off the field. The motivation and trust they had in me made it easy for me to give them credit for the success I’m having.”

In addition to Anthony’s coaches, every professor, faculty, and staff member Anthony encountered has pushed and guided him down the line of success. He credits Psychology Department Chair, Dr. Tracy McDonough, Ph.D. and Sociology & Social Work Department Chair, Dr. Jennifer Withrow.

“These two people have pushed me to become more than just a football player and average student here at the Mount. Every week I’m checking in with them to make sure I’m staying on top of things, but also to make sure I’m not overloading or stressing myself out.”

In addition to a winning a football championship, Anthony maintains a high GPA while co-oping at the AmeriCorps/Student Resource Center Coordinator position on campus. This position aims to break down any socio-economic barriers any student may have throughout their experience at the Mount.

Here, he runs the Lions Cupboard, the cost-free on-campus food pantry to provide students with resources they may need. In addition, he coordinates events to promote the pantry and spread awareness of this resource on campus.

“I like to say I’m the middleman in finding a resource that best fits the concern a student may have,” he says.

The Get Dirty for a Cause event is Anthony’s favorite project he’s done so far in this position, teaming up with the Greek Life on campus to have a Pie-A-thon. He even managed to get faculty involved, and it brought out a huge crowd involving special guests like Campus Police, Coaches, too.

“Learning to communicate at a higher level, practicing having professional relationships with students, and learning to address others via email, zoom, etc. are skills found useful, especially regarding the profession I want to go into.”

A Balancing Act: Athletics, Academics, & Co-op

If it was not already a stellar six month period for Anthony, on Nov. 9, 2022, he was awarded an MSJ Mission Mug representing his outstanding commitment to leading with the mission of Mount St. Joseph University.

Anthony thinks about how proud Jacob would be of his success today.

“He’d probably hit me with the casual “YEAHH ANT” with the biggest smile on his face if he were here with us today,” he smiles. “I can see him doing backflips with the man upstairs right now after the season we just had. He truly was the most selfless person in the world, and cared about the success of others before himself.”

In the end, the best recommendation Anthony would give to students balancing several extra-curriculars with their academics is to manage their time wisely, learn to control what they can control, and give themselves a day off.

“Prioritize the things that are happening now, and focus on them. You will be stressed, there’s no doubt about it, but learning to accept whatever is thrown at you and move forward from it is the most useful thing I could suggest. Taking a mental day to yourself is important, too. Sometimes you need a break and it’s better to take some time off rather than overwhelming yourself.”

Heading into his senior year this upcoming Spring, Anthony will graduate a semester early in December 2023.

Psychology Program: Learn More

Are you interested in understanding people's behavior and mental processes? Psychology may be a strong career choice for you! Bachelor's-degree careers of our graduates include mental health specialists, therapeutic service providers, HR, and more.

Plus, our general psychology major allows you to specialize in a specific area of psychology with our psychology advising tracks. A survey of our recent psychology graduates showed that 100% of them had either obtained full-time employment or were pursuing graduate study.  Visit the Mount's Psychology page here to check out these offerings!