Kansas City, Missouri: If you look at Coach Terry McCray, it might be obvious that he played football, but you may be surprised to know he also competed in interpretation of literature. In college, he played football in the fall semester and joined the speech team in the spring.
Terry played high school football at Hickman Mills High School in Kansas City, Missouri and college ball at Missouri Western State College (now University). After college, he started teaching as a sub at Imagine Renaissance High Academy and went full-time the next year. Early on, he felt the students needed something to occupy their time and asked the principle about starting a team.
“After realizing these kids needed something to do with their time, I approached the principle about starting a football team,” said Terry. “She said go for it. The school gave me money to get started and I applied for grants and raised money to equip and outfit our team.”
Terry’s ability to get the best out of his players showed immediately, as his first team went 6-5 and tied for the conference championship. The next year, the team went 7-5, winning the conference championship and then the district championship. Unfortunately, the school closed in 2011.
After the school closed, Terry took his current position at Northeast High School in Kansas City, Missouri. Terry says it was a job no one wanted and even he was leery about taking it; the team finished 0-10 the previous season. However, Terry wasn’t phased, bringing what he calls a “never quit mentality and a toughness” to the school and its football team. That philosophy turned a losing team into a 7-4 team that won the conference and lost to the eventual state champs in the playoffs. This year’s team has a 2-1 record after 3 games.
So, what is the driving force behind Coach McCray’s passion? Helping inner-city kids find their way.
“I’m trying to teach them (the players) life lessons through the game of football,” Terry said. “Some of our inner city kids are losing their way because they have no guidance; if I can say something to touch one of them, then I’ve done my job and they can go on to be successful in whatever they choose to do because they know that they’ve done hard work. That’s what I love about coaching is just being with the kids every day and teaching them something good.”
Unrelated to football, I mentioned that Terry also participated in speech. Giving a different perspective of the passionate Coach is Christian Ogi, who was his partner in an event called “Dramatic Duo,” which is two people interpreting a selection from a play. When I recently asked her about being paired with Terry she said, “I’d struck gold! He was so focused on doing well: I’d never seen a guy work so hard to get good at something he’d never heard of a year before. He worked his tail off to understand the nuances of our category, what made a good duo and a great duo…and he had a real hidden talent for it…
I remember we took first place once, and I don’t think he wiped the grin off his face for the entire, miserable ride from Arlington.”
In the end, Terry McCray cares about people and brings out the best in them. Because of this passion for making a difference, The Good in Sports is honored to highlight Coach Terry McCray with its prestigious GAME CHANGER AWARD. In honor of the coach’s hard work, The Good in Sports will be awarding the Coach with a couple of GAME CHANGER t-shirts; one for him and one for him to award to a select player that best represents his passion both on and off the field.
- Do you know of a Game Changer like Coach McCray? Nominate them!