Coach of the Year: Jen Gray
It’s hard making something from nothing. Just ask Palo Alto High School girls’ varsity lacrosse coach, Jen Gray. Two years ago, Gray took the lead of Paly’s newly born lacrosse program. The team ended its first season with a record of 2-10. After a dramatic turn around, the team ended the 2009 season with a record of 18-3. Not only does Gray coach the varsity squad, but she also coaches JV, spending up to four hours a day at Paly, in addition to attending both team’s games and weekend practices.
“It’s been a struggle, but its been a good challenge,” Gray said. “The girls have definitely had to take on a lot more on their own.”
Gray had her start in lacrosse when her father taught her the game at an early age. Gray immediately fell in love with lacrosse, and took her career to the collegiate level playing for Princeton University. After an injury her senior year, Gray turned to coaching lacrosse.
“I love the sport and I love teaching other people about the sport,” Gray said. “I think it’s a wonderful team sport.”
Gray’s success as a coach can be seen beyond numbers. Her players attest to her dedication and committment and to coaching and building the foundation of a player’s stick skills using her own knowledge and experience.
“The difference between [Gray] and other coaches is that she doesn’t let anyone become the superstar,” attacker Sam Herzog (’10) said. “When she sees a player struggling, she works with her individually.”
While Gray helps indiviudal team members, she puts the team first, acknowledging that success is brought about through teamwork, as opposed to the talent of standout players.
“I really get to see the girls learn how to work in a team and to take personal responsibility for being in a team and what that means, so sort of learning life lessons of having to perform well on your own and then also perform with a group of people.”
Gray hopes the best for the lacrosse program’s future. She sees herself as a part of the greater picture, building a foundation for continued success.
It’s really fun to have a new program and to build something like this because you see improvement day to day,” Gray said. “It;s so satisfying at the end of the day to see that and I’m so proud of [the team].”
Jen Gray’s Lacrosse Background
-Started playing lacrosse when she was 11
-Best lacrosse memory- getting into the Virginia NCAA
-Best game coached- Paly v. Burlingame High School
-Biggest role model- Her dad. “He taught me how to be the kind of athlete I am, how to play lacosse, and how to coach.”