Here’s Dan’s story about former Nyack basketball coach Gary Gray’s induction into the Rockland Sports Hall of Fame:
When Gary Gray was named the Nyack boys basketball coach in 1981 he wanted to bring honor to not only the players on the team, but the entire village of Nyack.
“That was always one of my goals, to try and have the community have a lot of pride in our program,” Gray said. “I wanted my players to get the glory that was afforded to them.”
In his 26 years as head coach Gray posted a 432-155 overall record, averaging over 16 wins a season and posting only two losing records as the Indians transformed into a perennial powerhouse in Rockland County.
Gray is second in Rockland in boys basketball career wins, sixth in Section 1 and inside the top 50 in the state.
On Saturday Gray, 62, will enter the Rockland Sports Hall of Fame at the annual induction dinner at Pearl River Elks Club in Nanuet. Just like when he took over the school’s basketball team, Gray hopes his entrance into the hall of fame will bring some pride to Nyack.
“I’m just so happy that, once again, the community of Nyack can be proud of someone who worked for the school district,” said Gray, who was a physical education teacher in the district for 33 years. “The people that played for me and coached with me, they can have that pride that we all did that together. We were able to achieve such a high award.”
A 1969 Nyack graduate, Gray returned to his alma mater in 1974 after graduating from the University of South Florida with hopes of coaching boys basketball. With no openings, Gray worked with the girls program until 1981 when took over a boys team that finished the previous season 2-18.
Gray went 9-11 in his first season. It was the last losing record the Indians would have for 24 seasons. It wasn’t until the 2006-07 season, Gray’s last, that Nyack posted another losing record.
“That was the part I found difficult, changing the mentality of the kids on the team that I had had,” said Gray of his initial season. “We were practicing 2 1/2 hours a day. We were going double sessions on Saturdays. Some of the players objected to that.”
Nyack won 14 league titles, four sectional titles, made two trips to the state final four and had a state final appearance under Gray.
Gray, who retired from coaching and teaching in 2007, now works part-time for Schultz Ford delivering auto parts. The long trips have given him a chance to relive his time at Nyack.
“You have a lot of time to yourself so you think about a lot of things,” Gray said. “Especially lately, when I found out I was being inducted into the hall of fame, it does give you time to reminisce about a lot of the things we used to do.”