Gridiron rivals become business partners

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Antwan Washington graduated from Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa. Erick Wright is an alum of Demopolis High School. Washington was a linebacker and fullback for the Patriots and Wright was a defensive back and wide receiver for the Tigers.

When they met on the field, it was all about bringing home a win for their team. But now, as co-workers at Nationwide Insurance Washington Agency, the jerseys are hung and Washington and Wright are both on the home team.

For Washington, a Tuscaloosa native, insurance was in his blood.

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“My dad, Woodie Washington Jr., has been in the insurance business for 32 years,” he said, “So it was a family business, but it wasn’t something I felt pressured to go into. I wanted to do it to keep everything going.”

Thus after graduating from the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff with a degree in business administration and minor in accounting, Washington joined his father as an insurance provider.

As a student at Troy State University in Troy, Wright’s networking led him to the father of his high school rival.

“When I met Mr. Washington I told him that I would be willing to come back to Demopolis,” Wright said, “and it wasn’t a hard decision for me.”

So once Wright received a degree in risk management and insurance in 2005, he returned to his hometown and is currently balancing his job as an insurance salesman and a cornerback for the Montgomery Maulers.

Woodie made the decision for the Washington group to build its second office in Demopolis after he saw how the city was expanding.

“He saw it as an opportunity to come down here because the community was growing and we want to grow with the community,” Washington said. “And being in the location where we are -right in the middle of town- shows that we moved down here to help the people.”

“We are more connected with the community,” Wright said. “Other insurance companies just give people a price, but we really get in touch with our clients to see what they need and what it is they can afford to pay.”

Nationwide sells various insurance policies for home, auto, financial products, and businesses and, unlike many insurance companies, works with high-risk drivers and people who are new behind the wheel.

And even though the doors opened in August 2005, Washington said business didn’t pick up until September.

“It’s been going good,” he smiled. “Right now we serve about 250 households in Demopolis and surrounding areas.”

But Washington and Wright are not your average insurance brokers. At the ages of 26 and 22, respectively, the pair may be some of the youngest agents in the area and when it comes to doing their job, Wright says their age has nothing to do with ability.

“We went from high school rivals to an all-star team,” Washington said.

“Just look at our book of business and give us a chance,” Wright said. ” We are not asking you to change companies, but let us give you a second opinion and see if we can help you. If we can’t, at least we tried.”

For more information or a free quote, contact Washington or Wright at (334) 289-9993, or visit them in person at 211 Cedar Avenue in Demopolis. Insurance information is also available at