Coaches Corner: Getting to know Coach Brandon Gray
“I was born and bred here and I don't plan on being anywhere else. AHS has been such a big part of my life-I don't know anything else,” were Coach Brandon Gray's thoughts about coaching football at his alma mater when we sat down with him earlier this week.
Gray grew up in Adamsville and attended AHS, graduating in 1992, where he was the first four year letterman in baseball, basketball and football. He then played two years of baseball at Jackson State Community college before tearing his labrum.
He then finished his work on his degree at UNA, with majors in Sociology and Criminal Justice. Gray next attended Trevecca in Nashville where he earned his Master's in Educational Leadership.
Gray spent the next five years building houses before Coach Danny Combs approached him about becoming an assistant football coach at AHS in 2002.
Gray assumed the head coaches role in 2006. He also teaches Criminal Justice, Sociology and Contemporary Issues.
“You can't beat this place. Adamsville is a great town. You know AHS is a good place because people keep coming back and we hope our players keep on coming back. This program is all about the community and the school,” were Gray's thought on coaching in his hometown.
Brandon, 37, resides in Adamsville with his wife Emily and young son Jon Canton, 3, along with two very special nieces, Skylar, 12, and Chancy, 13. “Without Emily, I could not do what I do-she is my rock.”
“I really appreciate my assistant coaches; Rennard Woodmore, Jayte Chapman, Joe Hopper, Noah Evans, Harold Settlemires, Ray Martin, John Ross Reaves and Nathan Ragan,” said Coach Gray. We next asked Coach Gray several rapid fire questions as follows:
Q. When did you realize you wanted to be a coach?
A. In high school. It seems like my entire life has been involved around sports and being competitive.
Q. Who inspired you to get in to coaching?
A. Danny Combs, Joe Bridges, Joe North and all my former coaches. I try to take a little piece from all of them to use as I coach.
Q. Who has been most influential in your life?
A. My family-My late brother, Chad,-we were very competitive. He taught a lot. My mom, Nancy Ellen Gray, she was just a good mom. She raised me right and taught me to respect people. She taught me good morals and a good work ethic. My dad, Glen H. Gray, always taught me that knowledge is power and that no one can take it from you.
Family continues to be extremely important to Coach Gray. His family enjoys a meal every Tuesday night at the home of Emily's mother, Pam Baugus. Wednesday evening, the gathering moves to his mom's home and Sunday's you will find them at Brandon and Emily's home.
Q. Do you try to emulate any other coaches?
A. No one coach in particular. You have to find your own way. If something doesn't work-don't keep doing it. Kids have so many distractions. I'm a big quality over quantity guy. When it is time to work, let’s go get it done.
Q. What part do you think coaches play in the lives of young people?
A. We try to teach accountability. We talk to the guys about one day they will be fathers and husbands. You will get knocked down, but you have to get back up and go to work. You never know what is coming up next. We try to shape kids in to being good citizens who will hopefully come back some day and be a part of a good community.
Q. What is your favorite thing about coaching?
A. When you finally see a kid “get it”. When you get to the point where you have kids helping kids that means a lot.
Q. What is your least favorite thing?
A. Being away from my family, especially as my little boy gets older. My family sacrifices a lot.
Q. What is the most memorable moment of your coaching career up till now?
A. In 2009, when we defeated TCA for the district championship and Humboldt in the second round of the TSSAA playoffs. I loved how our kids came together and fought hard, it was a complete team effort. It was the first home playoff victory for AHS since 1991.
Q. If you could spend an evening with any three people, past or present, who would it be, and why?
A. My late grandmother, Dean Browder-I miss everything about her. My late brother, Chad, he paved the way for me. I wanted to be like him. He wanted to be a coach and I'm sure that is part of me getting in to coaching. My late father-in-law, Randall Baugus-me getting my education was very important to him. He also just loved being around family.
Q. What advice would you give to others thinking of getting in to coaching?
A. Make sure you are willing to work hard and sacrifice your time. Also make sure you have a passion for coaching or you won't be successful. Try to leave each job and each program better than you found it. That will help you in life. Remember-everything matters. You have to pay attention to detail. Surround yourself with good people.
Coach Gray finished with one of his favorite quotes: “It is said of righteous old men that they plant the acorns of trees they will never sit under.”