Cory Gray led Crusaders to 2 state championships

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Coach Cory Gray high-fives player

Cory Gray high-fives a Crusader player during the 2017 State Championship game on June 10, 2017. The Crusader won the game 6-2 over Elwood to become the Class 2A state champions.

By Beth Murphy, Director of Marketing Communications

Scecina Crusaders are remembering their former softball coach Cory Gray as a funny, generous, patient man who, as the father of two daughters, had a special talent for coaching teenage girls.

Gray, who coached the Scecina Crusaders softball team to two state championships, died April 30. He was 50.

Gray coached the 2013 state championship team, suffered a stroke in 2016, and rallied back in 2017 to coach and inspire the Crusaders to another state championship.

“Cory’s determination to be on the field after his stroke worried some of the players, but he showed them that he was there for them and he wanted to be on the field and I think he needed to be on the field,” said current coach Holli (Fouch) Streeval ‘97.  “He needed some normalcy in his life and that was coaching Scecina softball. He needed it to help him to continue the healing process.”

The IndyStar honored Gray in April 2018 as its statewide coach of the year in the IndyStar Sports Awards at Butler University’s Clowes Hall. At the event, Gray gave an emotional yet self-deprecating and funny speech in a voice altered by the effects of his stroke. He also had his photo taken with former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who was a special guest.

“Cory was more than just an outstanding coach,” said Scecina Athletic Director Jason Kehrer. “He had a positive impact with his players. He really enjoyed coaching, and it was a pleasure to watch him.”

Gray took over coaching the Crusaders in 2008 from Tom Moorman.

“The thing I liked about Cory was he loved to learn about the game of softball,” Moorman said. “And the girls he coached would run through a wall for him.”

Holli’s husband, Brad, was an assistant coach under Gray and their daughter Kristina played for the Crusaders.

“One of my best memories was Kristina’s sophomore year,” said Holli Streeval. “Cory called her personally to tell her she made the all-state softball team.  She cried and I could hear him laugh over the phone. He cared for every one of his players and he took the time to let them know.”

Gabi Leffler ’15 played for Gray at Irvington Little League and at Scecina.

“He was just a great coach. He knew how to communicate with the high school girls,” she said. “I think that was the biggest indicator that set him apart from other coaches. He knew when to be hard on us, and when not to be, and you never sensed that he ever gave up on us.”

Gabi was a younger team member who didn’t play in the 2013 state championship. She did play in two semi-state tournaments in 2014 and 2015.

One game in particular in her junior year, the first game of the 2014 semi-state against Monrovia, went to 13 innings.

“It was so hot, and if we won we’d have to play another game. It was so close, so exciting, It was high stakes. You’re playing for so long with these girls. But I never felt pressured,” she said. They won the game and then lost in the championship.

“All of those things, they were amazing experiences that I feel so lucky to have been a part of,” she said.

When Gray came back in 2017, “he was a huge presence on the field for the girls,” said Streeval.

“However, he said on multiple occasions he was only as good as his coaching staff.  Pat Miles, Brad Streeval and Mike Troutman, they were the reason our girls won state in 2017,” she said.  “Those three guys stepped up for Cory and kept the culture of hard work at every practice.  Cory was limited physically on what he could do, but with the four of them together, they made it work and they had one of the best seasons in program history.”

Gabi Leffler was living in Chicago when Gray suffered his stroke. She was surprised by his appearance when she did see him in 2017.

“He had huge smile on his face, it was like, ‘Hey kid how is it going.’  He was still himself, it was just a different version.

“I got in my car and broke down in tears,” she said. “To see that he had this illness, and he was not himself, it was hard. I could picture him coaching softball until he was in a wheelchair and old. He just cared so much.”

Streeval, a former Crusader softball player, enjoyed watching Scecina transition from Moorman to Gray, who she had known for several years.

“It was good to be back as an alumnus and former Crusader softball player. I enjoyed watching the program transition from Tom to Cory.  Now, I hope I am able to fill both of their shoes.”

Gray, she said, gave everything he had to the sport of softball.

“He loved it and, other than his family, softball and the players he coached for so long were what his life was about.”

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