KHS swimmer Matthew Archibald uses paddles to improve upper body strength during practice on Monday, Dec. 4.
GAZETTE PHOTO/Rikki Rogers
KEMMERER — The KHS boys swim team started practicing for the season on Monday, Nov. 26, with longtime coach Greg Gray pushing them on.
Gray was raised in Chicago. After graduating high school, he went to junior college in Chicago where he played football. He then transferred to the University of Wyoming where he played football and helped coach as a graduate assistant. Gray graduated from UW in 1973, at which point he moved to Wisconsin and played minor league football and got his first paid coaching position.
Gray moved to Kemmerer in 1975, worked construction for Chuck Luthy and was the assistant football coach for the next five years. In 1979, while still coaching football, Gray was hired for a full-time position at the pool.
“We started the first middle school team in 1982, followed by the first high school girls team in 1983,” said Gray. “We finally got a high school boys team going in 1990.”
When asked what drives him to coach this long he replied, “I don’t know if I’m driven, I’m just crazy, I think.”
“Some people say I have been coaching for too long,” said Gray. “I don’t know if it has been that many years. I lost the national coach of the year award to a guy who has been coaching for 52 years.”
The kids are what keep him here.
“I poured concrete for five years and missed the kids. I missed being around the athletics and a team of kids,” said Gray. “I love to see how they grow and build.”
That is his philosophy, to generate growth and build on that.
“Everyone is growing up,” said Gray. “This is a chance for the kids to grow — in a competitive situation and to grow socially, and healthy. It’s not about becoming a champion. It’s not about beating other people; it’s not about winning at any cost. It’s about growing up and enriching your life — building yourself up to be a strong individual mentally, physically and hopefully a little morally.”
Gray’s one rule is to do what you need to do to be your best.
“This means I expect you to do the things that need to be done for the team to be its best,” said Gray.
He expects the kids to do be at practice on time, to be honest and to obey the rules. He also expects the kids to respect others.
“You want to build a kid up,” said Gray. “You don’t want to tear them down. You never want to tear a kid down. You never want to hurt a kid.”
Gray is excited that there are 12 swimmers on the team this year.
“Some kids were disappointed that it wasn’t as many as last year, but I’m tickled to have what I have,” said Gray. “We always have room for more.”
“I think we could place just as good as we did last year. We have some fast kids and some new kids that are really coming along,” said Gray. “It is going to be a good year. We have a tendency to grow. We don’t lose many kids. So my goal is to just keep everyone together.”
The swimmers’ first meet will be Friday, Dec. 7, at home against Lyman at 5 p.m.