VALPARAISO | Basketball has dominated Jeanette Gray’s life for as long as she can remember and it has come at the expense of her family.
With her family in mind, Gray made the decision to step down as head coach of the Valparaiso girls basketball program on Friday afternoon.
“Basketball has dictated everything in my life,” Gray said. “It’s really made my family No. 2 and I owe them a better me.”
Gray took over the Vikings in 2009 after stints at Clark and Highland. The Valparaiso University graduate also served as an assistant coach at Ball State before she joined the high school ranks. Gray was an Indiana All-Star while starring for the Vikings during her playing career.
Valparaiso has gone 28-58 over the last four years, reaching one sectional championship game in Gray’s first season. Struggling to win games didn’t expedite Gray’s decision; instead it made the decision tougher, she said.
“The fact that we haven’t had much success in wins made this harder,” Gray said. “I really wanted to turn this around, get the program back to the level where it should be. I wanted the girls I coached to experience the same success I did when I was in school.”
Gray is a math teacher at Valparaiso and will continue in that role this year. She plans to be in the same role next year. Gray hasn’t given much thought to her future, only that she knows she needs to step away from the game for the time being.
“I’m keeping all my options open at the moment, but I’m content with being a teacher,” Gray said. “I’ve really pushed away a lot of family and friends and I’m looking forward to spending more time with them.”
Gray always will feel a connection to the game of basketball even if it has left her fatigued. The seven-year head coach didn’t rule out a return to coaching somewhere down the line.
“Maybe being an assistant somewhere in the future, but right now my focus is on my family,” Gray said. “I’ve missed a lot in life. It’s not that basketball hasn’t given me a lot. Maybe I still belong in the game, but time will tell.”