PRINCETON — Dave Gray has climbed the ladder in the Princeton High School boys soccer program from the bottom all the way to the top.
He played for the Tigers under coach John Garvin, graduating in 2000. He came back into the program as an assistant coach in 2010. On Wednesday, he was named as the third head coach in program history, succeeding Jason Bird who resigned at the end of the 2013 season.
“I’m real excited for the opportunity and can’t wait to get started,” Gray said. “I think the program has had a lot of support in the community and with what’s already in place, I can take it to new level consistently competing for the sectional title and beyond.”
“I feel I can do the job, and now it’s a matter of proving it and show they made the right decision.”
Gray said he played soccer for as long as he can remember, starting up with Princeton Youth Soccer. After his playing days at PHS, he was a four-year letter winner at Monmouth College.
He got his start coaching at DePue High School where he taught from 2005-08, first as an assistant for one year and three as head coach.
He has been the head F/S coach for the PHS girls and joined the boys staff with an eye on taking over one day when Bird retired.
“I was trying to learn the program and expectations and basically put myself into position I could be considered for the job. Lucky for me, that’s the direction they went, and I’m excited,” said Gray, who has taught junior high social studies at Logan Junior High School since 2008.
The fact he has been around the kids on the team and knows them from junior high helps, he said, because “I know some of their quirks and behaviors, I guess.”
Bird groomed Gray for the job and is happy to see him take over.
“I think he’s going to do great a job. I’m very excited he got the job,” Bird said. “Hope he can take the program consistently to another level.”
Gray said he’s learned a lot from the coaches he’s played for and with over the years.
From Garvin, he said, “I learned a lot about the coaching craft regardless of sport … organization, personnel management. You knew what to expect. There wasn’t any surprises … I probably took it for granted as a high school player, but I’ve really learned to appreciate what coach Garvin did.”
He said coach Bird good job “relating with the guys, made practice really enjoyable and the guys worked hard because they liked being around him. He brought enjoyment and enthusiasm, and I think players appreciated that and he liked to compete.”
Gray said he’s learned a lot from PHS head girls coach Ed Young, who’s “very driven and thorough.”
Now that he’s the head coach, Gray said he’s “excited to get started and looking forward to what I can do.”
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