This week’s guest is one of the most passionate and caring coaches in the area and is in the process of building the foundation of a future TAPPS powerhouse. Please relax and enjoy sports editor Kendrick E. Johnson’s Sunday Spotlight Conversation with McKinney Christian head coach Chance Gray.
How much have things improved for McKinney Christian Academy since your first day on campus nine years ago?
Gray: We recently watched film from the 2010 season, because I wanted the guys to see the “old school” uniforms that our current team is going to wear for homecoming this year. It brought back a lot of great memories and reminded me of how many players and coaches have poured into this program the last 10 years. Nobody is “zoned” to attend MCA. It always starts with a choice that families make to invest in Christian education for their kids. We have grown in many ways at MCA since I started 10 seasons ago.
We have won many games and earned many scholarships, but I am most thankful that we have stayed true to the original mission of the school set forth by our founding families in 1992, which is to educate students’ minds, bodies, and spirits from a Biblical worldview.
Give some insight into all the emotions that were inside you when first got promoted to head football coach.
Gray: I probably fell into the trap of creating undue pressure on myself. I knew we were moving up a division in TAPPS and that the 2018 season was going to be challenging.
In hindsight, I created stress for myself that was not helpful to our mission as a team. Much has been learned already, most of all to stay focused on our purpose and entrust great people with big roles within our program, like our offensive coordinator Darrick Ware and our defensive coordinator Thomas Everett.
It has already led to a much more enjoyable experience for coaches and players. I like to be self-reflective and learn each year, so I am looking forward to growing personally and professionally every season.
Where does your motivation for coaching come from, and how has it helped you thrive in a situation which isn’t for everybody?
Gray: My motivation for coaching stems from the struggle I experienced after playing at Allen High School and Texas A&M. As a young man, my identity became being a football player, and it was hard to deal with when my playing days were over.
Coming out of college, I wanted to be part of a football program that was not only excellent on the field, but allowed young men to grow in their trust of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Mike Carter, my high school offensive line coach at Allen, connected me with McKinney Christian Academy back in 2010, and it has been a great fit.
Describe the hard work it takes to deal with the difficulties inherited by being the head coach of a football program in one of the toughest TAPPS districts in the state.
Gray: With anything, it starts with trust. Fear can easily creep in, but perfect love casts out fear, and so I trust that the Lord is going to provide and walk by faith.
I ask our coaches and players to start by doing the same thing. Then we get to work, focused on being our best each day. We evaluate every aspect of our program and find the unique ways we can be at our best.
It is only possible with a focused and unified team.
That starts with our administration, coaches, players and parents. I am learning more each day how crucial it is to have a great staff. I am very thankful to have Thomas Everett, Robert McAllister, Darrick Ware, Trey Stringer and others that take immense pride in their professional craft.
What will you remember most about the 2017 MCA football squad that finished as state runner-up?
Gray: There are so many vivid memories about that year, but I’ll give a couple.
I will remember the 2017 MCA team for our focused approach, specifically throughout the playoffs. We were not focused on the results, but instead what we needed to accomplish each day to be our best.
I will also remember the poised nature of our quarterback that year, Will Baxter. I think he was very much a steadying force for our team, which is important for a playoff run.
The offensive line that year has to get huge credit. They improved every week, and we ended up averaging 140 yards rushing each game of the playoffs that year.
It was fun to see them improve weekly, and it’s a testament to our linemen now to continue working and peak at the right time.
Who has had the biggest influence on you personally, and how has their guidance gotten you to this point in your career?
Gray: Two people – my dad, Joe Gray, and my mentor from Grace Bible Church in college, Ryan Poehl. My dad showed me what passion looked like from a young age.
He loved our family well and he loved coaching football. He showed me an unrelenting work ethic and a competitive spirit.
He always expected my best, but, more importantly, I was always assured of his love no matter what. That is a great gift for a father to give to a son.
Ryan Poehl was the leader that helped me see that achievements do not define a person.
What is your favorite Bible verse, and how has it helped you spread the word of God positively?
Gray: “In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” That is 1 John 4:10 & 11, and I believe it succinctly shares that it all begins with God’s love for all people, that he has shown that love through giving us Jesus Christ, and that our genuine response should be to love Him and love all people. If I try to get anything right within the coaching profession, it is to love people – players, parents and coaches.
How bright is the future of MCA athletics, and what needs to be done so that all MCA programs reach their full potential?
Gray: The vision is big and getting bigger. Again, it all starts with trust. We trust God with our school and with our athletic program.
We have been provided some amazing coaches at MCA, people who have elite experience and a desire to disciple young people through athletics. When you have the right purpose and the right people, I believe other people will be drawn to that and want to help build this community of faith here at MCA.
I believe we can create a very uncommon athletic program. Our program helps young people forge a strong personal identity in the grace of Jesus Christ, form Christ-like character, attain college-prep knowledge, win championships, earn scholarships and have a ton of fun in the process.
We already have the purpose; we continue to add great people. I am hopeful we can soon build a stadium and track of our own that will only help enhance our beautiful campus in the heart of McKinney. It is an exciting time to be an MCA Mustang, and I am excited to see the people that will choose MCA in the years to come.