Gray prepares for first season
Mike “Fly” Gray’s history with basketball is as interwoven and complex as the schedule he currently keeps.
Dividing his time between being a teacher’s assistant at Tahoe-Truckee High School, a counselor at Sierra Mountain Middle School for the Truckee Group Individual and Family counseling center, a counselor for sex offenders at the Briarwood Group Home in Reno, a husband to his wife, Jennifer Gray, and father for his “little man” Devin Gray (age 4) and daughter Niketa, Gray, somehow, is also the new head coach for the Wolverines’ boys’ basketball team. That’s a lot of commuting for the Reno resident.
“I’m doing what I like to do,” Gray said. “I love working with kids and I love coaching basketball.”
Gray, 42, replaces TTHS principal Dennis LeBlanc as the team’s head coach. LeBlanc’s Wolverines narrowly defeated Gray’s former team, Rite of Passage, last season 66-64 to advance to the state playoffs. The Wolverines were eliminated in the second round by the Moapa Valley Pirates.
Gray coached the ROP Rams for five seasons, managing last year to take them to zones for the first time since the school entered the 3A League. He was named the 1998 coach of the year by the NIAA.
Before coaching, he was a recruiter and scout for his alma mater, Lincoln Trail Junior College in Robinson, Ill. Gray attended Lincoln after graduating from MacKenzie High School in Detroit, Mich. According to Gray, he was the nation’s leading scorer as a sophomore at the junior college, averaging 28.7 points per game.
After finishing at his education at Lincoln, Gray was recruited to play as a shooting guard at the University of Nevada, Reno. Though he was pursued by such schools as Indiana State (Larry Bird’s alma mater) and Michigan, Gray said he was attracted to Reno’s night life.
Gray averaged 23.1 points per game at Reno and tried out for the National Basketball Association. He was cut as a point guard from the Golden State Warriors 30 minutes before the deadline.
“If I hadn’t been in my room,” Gray joked, explaining that the elimination process involved a phone call to his hotel room, “I’d probably still be on the team.”
“In Detroit, there’s this place called St. Sicilian,” Gray said of his high school years. “If you could play, or thought you could play, you went there. After playing there, you found out if you were any good. If you weren’t, it was really embarrassing. By the time I was a senior in high school, it was basically my gym.”
Gray was deemed “Fly” in high school and the nickname has followed him every since.
“I’m grounded now,” said Gray, “being 42 years old.”
Gray describes himself as a coach with “very high intensity.”
“I don’t like losing,” Gray said. “No one does, but it really sticks with me. Sometimes it keeps me awake at night. I’m a perfectionist. I like things to go right on the court because that’s when you have a chance to win.”
He is excited about coaching the Wolverines team this season.
“I probably have the best player in the state,” Gray said, referring to senior center, Mark Logan. “I’m building the team around him. He deserves it. I don’t want selfish players, though. I want a team.”
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The Truckee baseball team came up shy of a state championship last weekend, falling in Saturday’s title game to Virgin Valley.