Coach Gray

I’ve never quit anything in my life.  I have completed and fulfilled my commitments and obligations to teams, schools, churches, employers, and my country, but I have never quit.  Coach Dwight “Buddy” Gray is to thank for that.

I didn’t play JV football at Holtville.  I went out for varsity in the spring of my freshman year and to say I was behind physically and fundamentally would be a gross understatement.  During the last full week of spring practice, after a particularly miserable afternoon with awful weather in which I didn’t catch a single football, I hit the wall.  To this day I don’t know what it was or where it came from:  I wanted to quit.  After practice, I made the walk from the locker room to Coach Gray’s office in the field house and told him my heart wasn’t in it and wanted to turn in my stuff.  He was standing up at his desk and never asked me to sit.  Coach Gray looked me in the eyes and said to quit now, given all you’ve invested and the time you’ve put in, would be “foolish.”  Finish this week out, he said, and we’ll see where it goes.

As a leader, educator, and coach, I now know how easy it would have been for him to tell me to clean out my locker and leave my stuff at the equipment room door.  I also know now why he didn’t, and can’t thank him enough for that one minute of brutal honesty and encouragement.  After Coach Gray left the next season for Jemison, there would be many more opportunities to quit Holtville Football.  Many of my friends and teammates made that choice as we won only four games in 1988 and went winless in 1989, my senior year.  I didn’t.

Coach Gray passed away unexpectedly in the early morning of Wednesday, March 28th.  His last “TeAm GrAy Monday Message” was on gratitude.

Thanks Coach.


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