Kerry Gray's football, coaching acievements recognized
PETERSBURG - For Kerry Gray, football was his calling.
"Football carried me until I could carry myself," Kerry said. "The game owes me nothing and I owe much of what I've achieved in my life to it. The game was my path to a better tomorrow and I understand why God put great men in my path to ensure that I would not fail. I am truly standing on the shoulders of giants who brought their understanding of life experiences to me."
A punishing linebacker on the gridiron, Kerry Gray solidified his legacy not only at Petersburg High School, but also at William and Mary; the success he found playing football would carry over into a rich coaching career in football and track that spanned over 20 years.
For his breadth of achievements, Kerry Gray was inducted into the Petersburg Athletic Hall of Fame.
"This is truly the crowning moment of my athletic career," he said. "To gain the respect of those that watched your journey from the beginning to the top is truly remarkable."
Born to Ramona Gray and Robert Franklin on April 6, 1967 in Petersburg, Kerry graduated from Petersburg High School in 1985 and lettered three years in football. Named captain to the team his senior year, Kerry at linebacker spearheaded a defense that had six shutouts and allowed 39 total points in a 7-2-1 year for Petersburg Football. He played his best game against Highland Springs, dishing out a school-record 32 tackles, forcing a fumble and notching an interception in a 0-0 tie. In addition to most tackles in a single game, Kerry also set the Petersburg High School record for most tackles in a season at 167. He finished his senior season with six interceptions and five fumble recoveries.
Kerry was selected as All-American linebacker by Bigger Faster Stronger Magazine and was named All-District, All-Region, All-State, team MVP and All-American in 1984. He played in the VHSL All-Star game and recorded 13 solo tackles, three assisted tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. Kerry also won the Virginia State Powerlifting Championship in the 220-pound class.
Kerry signed a full athletic scholarship to attend and play for The College of William and Mary where he started all four years at linebacker. He started six games his freshman year with a 22-tackle (nine-solo-tackle) performance against Delaware in a 17-16 victory. Kerry also delivered double-digit tackles in four other games his freshman season.
Kerry was named Rookie of the Year by the William & Mary Quarterback as a true freshman, the 1986 Winter Warrior for the football player who best exemplified the offseason conditioning program, MVP of the 1987 Oyster Bowl and team MVP in 1988. Kerry also won Defensive MVP for the inaugural Epson-Ivy Bowl played in Japan. He finished his college career with 491 tackles, one interception, 5.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss. He graduated from William & Mary with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, and from Strayer University in 2009 with a Master's of Business Administration. In 2013, he completed his Principal Certification from Lamar University.
Kerry has also assembled a storied coaching career at schools throughout the region. He's held the role of Head Track and Field Coach at Richard Bland College (2014-2016), Highland Springs (2004-2008), Dinwiddie (2001-2003) and Petersburg High School (1993-1998). Kerry has also coached football at Carter G. Woodson Middle School (Offensive Coordinator, 2012-2015), Manchester High School (Running Back Coach, 2011), Highland Springs (Defensive Coordinator, 2004-2005), Dinwiddie (Defensive Coordinator, 2001-2003), Virginia State University (Defensive Line, 2000) and Petersburg (Defensive Coordinator, 1992-1998). Kerry is also the former Athletic Director at Petersburg High School.
"This validation of my athletic contributions and accomplishments definitely puts the roof on my athletic career," he said. "The foundation was laid with discipline, hard work, dedication, energy, commitment, enthusiasm, passion and teamwork. It's pure joy. My legacy will live forever. The fruits of my hard work and sacrifices will be remembered forever. My kids can now understand why the bar of expectation is so high."
Kerry is currently the Athletic Director at Hopewell High School, home of the defending Class 3 State Champions: Hopewell Football, who won the state championship at Zable Stadium in Williamsburg where Gray's college football career took place.
He praised his many coaches, his players and his family.
And Kerry praised his mother Ramona Gray who allowed him to follow his passion.
"She was my very first coach," he said. "Thank you Mom for allowing me to chase my dream and providing me with a much-needed inspiration. I love you so much."